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  • Writer's pictureBose Learning

What's the difference between "admitted to hospital" and "admitted to the hospital"?


This was a question from one of my YouTube students, Bidhu, who asked this great question:


"What's the difference between, "Mr X was admitted to hospital." and "Mr X was admitted to the hospital."


In other words, why would we use the definite article in the second example? Is the first sentence right or wrong then?


Both sentences are grammatically correct


The first thing to know is that both these sentences are grammatically correct. The only difference is that the meaning is slightly different in each because we would use the two options in different ways.


Here's an example from an OET case study


Let's imagine that Mr Wong has had a fall and was taken to hospital for a check-up and admitted overnight. No issues were found, but he may need additional support at home and a visit from the "Falls Team" to check for potential trip hazards around the house. You have been asked to write to Mr Wong's GP advising her of his admission and the need to book an appointment with the Falls Team and Physiotherapist.


Here's how you can start your OET Letter


We may want to start the body part of our letter like this:


Dear Dr. Walters,


I am writing in regards to your patient, Mr Zhiu Wong (79) who presented at our Accident and Emergency Ward following a fall at home, and was subsequently admitted overnight. All findings were unremarkable and he is ready to be discharged. He would benefit from your additional support and a visit from the Falls Team.


In the example above, we can see that he "was subsequently admitted overnight." Another way we could have written this is:


He was subsequently admitted to the hospital overnight.


Why would we use 'the' in this case?


We use 'the' because we know specifically which hospital we are referring to. In this case, the writer is referring to 'our' hospital. The one which had the Accident and Emergency Ward where he presented.


When to use 'the'


So we use 'the hospital' when we are referring to a specific one we have already mentioned before.


If we are just discussing the case generally, and we haven't already referred to a particular place, we wouldn't use the definite article.


We would say something like this:


Dear Dr. Walters,


I am writing in regards to your patient, Mr Zhiu Wong (79) who was admitted to hospital following a fall at home. All findings were unremarkable and he is ready to be discharged. He would benefit from your additional support and a visit from the Falls Team.


This time, no previous mention has been made to the hospital, so we can just leave out the 'the'.


In case of any doubt, use 'our'


We can often replace the 'the' with 'our' because you normally write from your own hospital or ward, so if there is any confusion, just use 'our' instead. This would be fine:


Dear Dr. Walters,


I am writing in regards to your patient, Mr Zhiu Wong (79) who was admitted to our hospital following a fall at home. All findings were unremarkable and he is ready to be discharged. He would benefit from your additional support and a visit from the Falls Team.


Additional Tip


Just be careful, because if you use a ward name, instead of a hospital, we always use 'the'.


He was admitted to the Emergency Admissions ward overnight.


Let's summarise


To recap then, when we are talking generally, we don't use 'the'.


E.g. "Mrs Brown is in hospital again." = we haven't referred to which one.


When we are talking about a specific hospital, and both people know which one, we use 'the'.


E.g. "Yes, I know. I said I'd go to the hospital to see her later today."


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