Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

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. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)

Word of the Day

neighbourly

friendly or helpful

Word of the Day

Blog

Read our blog about how the English language behaves.

Learn More

New Words

Find words and meanings that have just started to be used in English, and let us know what you think of them.

Learn More