Zero Articles for Buildings: Exercise

Grammar Summary:

Grammar exercise: Sometimes we don't need articles when talking about buildings. Use this exercise to practice your knowledge.
If you haven't already seen it, go to our lesson on Zero Articles for buildings.

Read the sentences and answer the questions:

Zero Article - to prison

1. “I drove past the prison yesterday.”
Am I an ex-prisoner or a guard?

2. “I left hospital two hours ago.” (UK)
Am I a patient or a doctor?

3. “The police took me to the prison.”
Am I a prisoner or a lawyer?

4. “I saw them outside church.”
Am I / they worshippers or not?

5. “She hates the college.”
Is she a student or an architect?

6. “Larry starts school at 9am.”
Is Larry is a student or a teacher?

7. “What age did you leave school?”
Am I talking about when ‘you’ used to be a student?


1. Answer: Either ex-prisoner or guard. This is “the prison” as a building. Even if I used to be a prisoner there, I am no longer under its care, so I do not  omit the article. 

2. Answer: A patient (in UK English). A doctor would probably say “I finished my shift two hours ago”. Note that if the speaker is American/Canadian s/he could be a doctor or a patient (because in US English "the hospital" can mean a hospital in general).

3. Answer: A lawyer (“the” prison). If I were a prisoner I would say the police took me “to prison”.

4. Answer: Yes, we are worshippers – no article used. If I say “the church”, I am talking about the church simply as a building. There is no implication of going into the church to pray.

5. Answer: Most likely an architect. Adding “the” moves the emphasis from the care provided by the college to the college as a building.

6. Answer: Probably a student. A teacher would probably say “I start teaching at 9am”

7. Answer: Yes. “To leave school” is an expression meaning to end one’s school education.

[End of exercise]

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