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Would you teachers kindly give me a hand to find out the mistakes in the paragraphs below:

Thank you very much.

Part 1

Articles with institutions and activities

I go to school at the morning.

I went to the cinema last night.

Both denote an activity with different articles. Why?

The key is from “you know which I mean?” by Michael Swan.

To see a film is for the public, so you know what kind of activity it is, and we use the.

To study at school is for a special group of people. Who know it? Perhaps you don’t.

Here go some activities for everyone:

the opera, the pub, the ballet, the sea, the radio, the club, the bus, the train, the ferry, and so on.

And some for a special group of people:

in prison, in court, at sea, at church……

Finally, some for the public but the props for special people:

go to bed, at table, in bed

Part 2

Individuals or a group

Plural nouns with definite articles with either specific or generic reference usually consider a group as a whole.

The Romans defeated the Carthaginians in 202 BC.

The action of a war is not taken by a person individually but a whole people.

The Americans are a generous people.

That is a general impression, but perhaps some of them aren’t.

I saw the stars in the sky.

My wife likes the seaside, but I prefer the mountains.

Stars or mountains, in fact, appear in my eyes as a group not one after one.

Singular non-count nouns with generic reference often denote one typical example in a group individually.

"Well Mr. Jones, I have travelled the world extensively and I can tell you that, in general, the Frenchman is a lover of food, the German is a good musician, the Spaniard has a passionate nature, etc." (by an e-pal named grubble)

The speaker learnt the knowledge of those peoples by watching some of them instead of studying them as a whole.

Schools should concentrate more on the child and less on exams.

The child, in this topic on education, means every one of the children at school should be cared for individually, of contrasts, the children, a whole, irresponsibly, or children, which refers to all children, impossibly.

He took her by the arm.

I wouldn’t take both of her arms with the one exception to let her not go.
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Comments  
Hi Norwolf,

This is a rather lengthy post so I hope that others will contribute too. As I already said in my previous post to you (in another thread) I have a problem with this sentence

Well Mr. Jones, I have travelled the world extensively and I can tell you that, in general, the Frenchman is a lover of food, the German is a good musician, the Spaniard has a passionate nature, etc."

I think the sentence should read

Well Mr. Jones, I have travelled the world extensively and I can tell you that, in general, the French (plural) are lovers of food, the Germans are good musicians, the Spaniards (plural) have a passionate nature, etc."
Regarding "go to school" and "go to the cinema"

These two expressions are very idiomatic and you should memorize them.

I go to school/church. (this one denotes a regular activity; you go there regularly to learn/pray )

I go to the cinema. (emphasis here is on an object/(the cinema) rather than an activity; this normally isn't a regular activity)

In sentences like the above the choice between an article or no article often depends on whether the sentence focuses on an activity or an object.
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
Ivanhr I go to school/church. (this one denotes a regular activity; you go there regularly to learn/pray ) I go to the cinema. (emphasis here is on an object/(the cinema) rather than an activity; this normally isn't a regular activity)
I would say what you said is rich of value.

Thank you so much, Ivanhr.

So, how can I interpret this:

She will appear in court tomorrow.

Still is it a regular activity?

I beleive idioms go hand in hand with logic.
She will appear in court tomorrow. (I suppose she will appear there as a witness/defendant; again the focus is on an activity not on an object/(the court building)

They took their landlord to court for breaking the contract. (same as above; their landlord will appear in court as the defandant in a trial case)

In both these examples, the sentences focus on what the court as the institution represents. The court building itself (an object) is completely irrelevant.

In fact, the same logic could be applied to the school example.
Students: Are you brave enough to let our tutors analyse your pronunciation?
Oh, thanks for your kind help, Ivanhr.

I treat the phrase “go to the cinema” as an activity not a building. Otherwise we would say “go to cinema”, which is really rare.

Whether no article or the in these cases, personally, depends not whether it refers to a building or an activity, but whether the activity is familiar to the public.

Here is an interpretation of the phrase by OALD8, which does consider it an activity:

2 the cinema [ singular ] ( BrE )

( NAmE the movies )

when you go to the cinema or to the movies , you go to a cinema/movie theater to see a film/movie

I used to go to the cinema every week.

The “activity or building” ideas from many books come to my knowledge normally, but I think its logic doesn’t make sense. So I want this topic to be discussed with all of you.

I admit that this activity/building explanation is kind of fuzzy. The best explanation I can give you would be to use no articles when you're thinking about "school/church/court" in terms of what they represent rather than what they really are--buildings. The "the" in the idiom "go to the cinema" probably has to do with the fact that people used to go to only one cinema to see a film(the cinema) because there were simply no other cinema theaters where they lived and the phrase caught on.
Ivanhr The "the" in the idiom "go to the cinema" probably has to do with the fact that people used to go to only one cinema to see a film(the cinema) because there were simply no other cinema theaters where they lived and the phrase caught on.
Dear Ivanhr.

That sounds great.

I did think about it. But it doesn't work in some ways. "the cinema" goes with generic reference, doesn't it?

And to some extent, I would prefer no article to the, talking about jobs in these institutions, which the public know little about.

I want to work in theatre.

At that time, in cinema, there were very famous Swedish actresses.

Do you think so?
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