Articles With Names of Leisure Activities

We typically use the article “the” to introduce a range of leisure activities and forms of entertainment (e.g., “to the beach”, “to the mountains”, “to the movies”, “to the disco”, “to the opera”, etc.).

We typically use the article “the” to introduce a range of leisure activities and forms of entertainment (e.g., “to the beach”, “to the mountains”, “to the movies”, “to the disco”, “to the opera”, etc.).

I love going to the beach in summer and to the mountains in winter.

We can go to the movies or to the opera.

But there are many exceptions; for example, we frequently omit the article with names of sports (tennis, football, basketball, etc.) and certain phrases, like “on vacation” (American English) or “on holiday” (British English).

I used to play basketball in school.

We went on vacation to the Caribbean region.

1. Going to the Beach, to the Coast, and to the Mountains

When using the expressions “go to the beach” and “go to the coast”, we generally include the article “the”.

Last Sunday I went to the beach with my friends.

Do you like going to the coast?

We need the article even if we are speaking about these activities in a general sense.

Going to the beach is my way to reconnect with myself.

Similarly, use the definite article with expressions such as “be in the mountains”, “go to the mountains”, “explore the mountains”, etc.

She’s currently on vacation in the mountains.

Last month I went to the mountains.

The expression “go to sea” (without “the”) has a different meaning; it can be used when someone becomes a sailor or starts a journey by sea.

My brother went to sea when he was 21.

When visiting a town or an area near the sea, Australian English speakers often say “go to the sea”, while British English speakers prefer the phrase “go to the seaside”. Americans, instead, tend to use the expression “go to the beach”.

I love going to the sea/to the seaside/to the beach in summer.

2. Go on Vacation/Holiday

We routinely omit the article “the” with the expressions “on vacation” (American English) and “on holiday” (British English).

We went to Spain on vacation in July.

Olivia is away on holiday for the next two weeks.

But you can put the indefinite article “a” to be more specific or highlight a particular activity during the vacation or holiday.

This is a perfect choice for a vacation.

Last year we went on a holiday to Indonesia.

Add also the article a/an or another determiner (the, my, your, his, her, etc.) when placing an adjective before the noun.

My wife and I enjoyed a fantastic vacation/holiday in Europe.

3. Go to the Disco, to the Movies, and to the Theater

Many forms of entertainment, such as the disco, the movies, the ballet, the opera, the theater, etc., are preceded by the article “the”.

Jennifer and I are going to the movies.

We went to the opera in New York.

But don’t use "the" before the word TV or television to talk about the programs broadcast in this way.

We watched the game on TV.

4. Names of Sports and Other Activities of Leisure

We don’t commonly use “a”, “an”, or “the” before the names of sports and other activities of leisure.

The girls are playing tennis this afternoon.

My girlfriend is good at soccer.

My husband and I enjoy walking in the mornings.

When using them as adjectives, however, you may need to put an article or another determiner before these words.

There will be a volleyball competition next month.

The soccer player has always been a global star.

Use also the article in sentences like this:

You must have been hungry from all the swimming and walking.

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