'To Hospital' vs. 'To the Hospital'

In British English, patients go to hospital or are in hospital (without “the”) to receive medical treatment.

In British English, patients go to hospital or are in hospital (without “the”) to receive medical treatment.

You should go to hospital if you experience severe chest pain or pressure.

Robert is in hospital and in a stable condition.

Visitors, however, go to the hospital or go to a hospital.

We went to the hospital to visit our friend who had an accident.

This distinction only occurs in British English. Most Americans always use a determiner (the, a, this, etc.) before the singular word “hospital”.

Olivia went to the hospital because she thought she was having a heart attack.

1. ‘Hospital’ in British English

When talking about being treated as a patient, British English speakers omit the article “the” or “a” before “hospital”.

Olivia is in hospital with serious health problems.

In British English, going to hospital or staying in hospital implies using health care services.

Whenever a serious illness or injury occurs, you need to decide whether to go to hospital.

Another example:

Linda had a car accident yesterday. She was taken to hospital. She’s still in hospital.

If you are not a patient, you go to the hospital. For example, you can go to a hospital to see a friend, to perform maintenance tasks, to clean rooms, to pick up your father who is being discharged, etc.

Jennifer is at the hospital. (as a visitor)

Yesterday I went to the hospital to visit my wife.

She went to visit her father in the hospital this morning.

However, British English speakers often drop the article when thinking of “hospital” as a general idea of these places and what they are used for.

He visited her in hospital. (We are not talking about a specific hospital.)

2. ‘Hospital’ in American English

In American English, we always use a determiner (the, a, this, etc.) before "hospital".

Barbara went to the hospital to have her baby.

Despite referring to the general idea of receiving medical or nursing care, most Americans use an identifier or quantifier before this noun according to the usual rules.

My sister went to the hospital after experiencing high fever with headache and stiff neck.

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