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I was going through another quiz section and came upon two baffling questions. Help.

Q2 - She is reading Italian at _________.

The answer is "university" and I can accept that but I think the other choice "the university" can be right too if the context is such that it can be used. What if I attach a restrictive clause after it like this?

She is reading Italian at the university she is going to at this moment of her life.

Q17 - What did you have for _______?

The answer is "dinner." My question is why not "the dinner." I think it could be "the dinner" if both parties involved have one specific dinner in their minds. Is that we can use the phrase "the dinner" only to refer to "special" dinner and not "specific" dinner?
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Your additions of the definite article can certainly be correct in context, as you said-- but if the questions are stand-alone, then the test taker cannot presume outside context, and the answers of these isolated questions could only be at university and for dinner.

Does that help?
Hello Believer

She is reading Italian at university. (British English)

She is reading Italian at the university. (American English)

What did you have for dinner? is correct grammatically.

"What did you have for the dinner?" is grammatically wrong.
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I would say '...at a university' (which one is not a question here) and '...for the dinner' (the one you had)
There was a post about that
AperisicTo simplify all what was said

  • in prison
  • at school
  • to hospital
  • in bed
  • in school
  • to church
  • to hospital
  • ...


  • All these examples do not use an article. When the article (either a/an or the) is not used like this, we are referring to the primary purpose of the mentioned place.

    (prison - to stay arrested, school - to learn, hospital - to cure, bed - to sleep, church - to pray or serve...)

    I hope this is easier to remember. This missing article, i.e. a deliberate non-use of the article, is called the zero article.

Hence, if I take it right, '...reading at university' / 'in a university'; 'for dinner' / no option?
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There is a difference in how Americans would say it. For reasons that make no sense to me, we could say "She's studying geology (or whatever) at school." Or "She's studying geology at college." But not "She's studying gegology at university." She's studying geology at the Univeristy of Illinois, if you want to identify the name of the institution (and use "the").

On the other list, we (Americans) also have an article before hospital.
Hi Aperisic,

You say that the nouns quoted by you do not use an article and that when the article (either a/an or the) is not used like this, we are referring to the primary purpose of the mentioned place.

However, you're referring to British English. In American English, 'the' will be inserted in most cases.

For example, in British English, it will be expressed as "The victim was taken to hospital", whereas the Americans will say "The victim was taken to the hospital." Another example is "My mother goes to market every Sunday" (British English) and "My mother goes to the market every Sunday" (American English).
Folks, these things are simply not as cut-and-dried as you seem to think: the BrE - AmE dichotomy no longer exists in pristine mutual exclusiveness. Unless there is some specific reference in the context to define the facility (beyond the fact that only one is expected to exist in the vicinity), I, as an AmE speaker, am just as likely to say all of these:

The victim was taken to hospital
The victim was taken to the hospital
My mother goes to market every Sunday
My mother goes to the market every Sunday
What did you have for dinner?
She is reading Italian at university.
She's studying geology at school/college/university


Why the hospital but not the university? That's what I say: there are no clearcut differences in usage.
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