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Place names

from English Grammar Today

Buildings, monuments, cathedrals, etc.

We use the with some names of buildings (we usually write the without a capital letter, the Taj Mahal, the Alhambra, the Houses of Parliament, the Pentagon) but not with others: Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, St Paul’s Cathedral, Chichen Itza.

Roads, streets, etc.

We use the with the names of major roads in a country: the M6, the A40, but not with the names of areas, squares, streets and roads in a town or city: Broadway, Covent Garden, Times Square, Princes Street.

Facilities in a town or city

We usually use the with the names of hotels, cinemas, museums and art galleries: the Marriott, the Louvre, the National Gallery.

When we are referring to buildings or institutions that don’t include the name of a town or city, we use the: the airport, the University Press, but not when the name of the town or city is included: Gatwick Airport, Cambridge University Press.

But there are some exceptions:

Have you been on the London Eye?

They’ve been on the Eye at least ten times.

We saw ‘Mamma Mia’ at the Bristol Hippodrome. (the name of a theatre)

Have you been to the Hippodrome since they renovated it?

The sea, the coast, etc.

When we are referring to general features of a country or its landscape, we use the: the sea, the countryside, the city, the coast.

Places: fixed expressions

There are a lot of common fixed expressions relating to places. We don’t normally use the with these expressions. Here are some of them:

to town: I’m going to town this afternoon.

in town: She works in town.

at school/university: They met at university.

from school/university: What time do they get home from school?

in hospital: Linda’s been in hospital since Friday.

in prison: Her husband is in prison, and life is very difficult for her.

(“Place names” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)
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