Difference: Go to school vs go to the school

My teacher told me, go to school is a fixed phrasal verb used to express the idea of someone coming to a school to do his studies while go to the school suggests someone coming to a school not to study something, he comes to do something else other than study.

Could anyone shed some light on these for me, please?



" Go to school", is a general term and could apply to any school.

“Go to the school”, refers to a specific school.


Let’s put them both into a sentence:

Charlie goes to school (he is a student) and his mother has to go to the school to take him home at the end of the afternoon.


I understand that Mr. Bill.
Mr. Alan, if we put them together as in your example, they clearly make sense, however, could I ask if there is any situation where “go to the school” stands alone and covers the meaning as I mentioned above, please?



Think of it this way: In “go to school”, “school” indicates an activity. In “go to the school”, “school” indicates a physical place, and “the” makes it specific.

Q: “Where does your son go to school?”
A: “He goes to the school on the corner.”

Q: “Where does your son go to school?”
A: “He goes to school in the next town.” (There is probably more than one school in that town.)

I don’t like this example. It confuses pupils at school.I’ve heard this example since I was on 5th form.
This is how I understand it:
I go to school. - going to the place where you study .
I go to the school- when I’m talking about the building (construction), which place is known exactly.

Can anybody tell me whether the following sentence is correct?

‘As I need to go to the school to pay may daughter’s fees, I will be coming to office late tomorrow.’

As I understood from this explanation, when we say:
I go to school - to school, in this context, is a verb? Otherwise it should have an article?
I go (in order to) school. Something like this?

We put the article in front of school, when we want to emphasis a school.

‘Go’ is the verb. ‘Go to school’ is an expression suggesting you are going to learn. In the same way you say: Go to work, suggesting that you are employed and are starting work. When you use the definite article with ‘school’, you are simply saying that you are making your way to a place which is a school. Look at these:

Charlie is a student and goes to school every day.

Charlie’s mother isn’t a student and is going to the school (the one that Charlie goes to) in order to speak to the head teacher of the school.


Thank you Mr. Alan.

I was a bit confused with the explanation in the previous posts. Now it is very clear.

Thanks again,

If a teacher teaches at the school.
Can we say … The teacher goes to school … . ( that is to say that he goes there to teach … not he goes to the physical building of the school )

That could be okay, but would depend on the specific scenario.


Mr. Alan has given the best idea.

This example has cited at Ramond & Murphy’s–English grammar in use nicely
including go to Hospital or go to the Hospital.

Please see the both intermediate and advanced level edition.