Dear all,

I am baffled by the use of the definitive article in front of the names of institutions. I get that you say the University of something (say, Oxford). But then, one writes "Oxford University" without the definitive article - but I suppose I should say the Oxford University HospitaI? Is this because "the" implies that the hospital is known?

Best wishes,



The use of definite articles with proper names is not fully predictable. Sometimes grammatical rules may guide you, but other times you may just have to know the conventional form. For example, grammatical rules might suggest "the Central Park" (New York City), but by convention the article is not used. I would say that, generally speaking, place names (such as "Oxford") act sufficiently as determiners, so that we do not say e.g. "the Oxford University". Some exceptions no doubt exist. By the "unfussiness" principle, "Oxford University HospitaI" does not seem to me to need an article, but when in doubt, do a Google search and see how reliable sources (especially the institution itself) write the name. Beware of cases where the article may be triggered by a further noun or noun phrase (e.g. "the Oxford University Hospital NHS Trust").

By the way, the term is "definite article", not "definitive article".


"The University of Oxford" is not used. It's "Oxford University ....", or just "Oxford." There are no set rules for the use of the article. Usage is based on tradition. Some other examples:

Cambridge University ...


Harvard University ... (Never: University of Harvard)


The University of California at Berkeley ...

Cal Berkeley

Berkeley (Never: Berkeley University)


Massachusetts Institute of Technology (usually referred to as M.I.T)

Cal Tech (California Institute of Technology)

The University of Michigan


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 GPY's reply was promoted to an answer.

The official title is "The University of Oxford".

But we commonly say simply 'Oxford".


Thank you for the answers! Emotion: smile

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