In jail or in the jail?

When one goes to a place or a building for the purpose for which it is constructed, the definite article THE may be avoided.

  • He is in jail.
    (i.e., he is convicted of an offence and undergoing punishment)
  • Renz has gone to school. ( to study)
  • Soja has gone to church. (to pray)
  • He is in hospital (for treatment)

Now differentiate with THE:

  • The magistrate is in the jail (may be he has gone to the jail to make an official visit)
  • Neethu has gone to the school (perhaps to meet her kid’s class-teacher)
  • The mason has gone to the church. (for doing some brick-work)
  • He is in the hospital (i.e., to visit his injured friend)

However there is one exception to this:

  • He went to the office. ✓
  • He went to office. ✗

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