“To Hospital”

John Grossmann alerts me that in today’s New York Times, columnist Nicholas Kristof (born in Yamhill, Oregon) refers to someone “rushing a gravely injured student to hospital.”

Truth to tell, I had always thought of as the Britishism as “in hospital,” compared to the American “in the hospital.” But a check of Google News reveals that Kristof’s usage is indeed a common British form. The American version is either “to a hospital” or (less commonly than in the “in” form) “to the hospital.”

This is the first “to hospital” or “in hospital” I’ve seen in lo these many years of paying attention to such things. So, until I find evidence to the contrary, I’m going to categorize this as an “outlier.”

15 thoughts on ““To Hospital”

  1. He prob watches a lot of BBC tv shows (or as they say, series) I’ve almost completely given up American TV for Brit stuff, and occasionally I catch myself using some Britishisms. last week my outburst “Bullocks” got more than one wierd look!

    1. Just tagging on re: British TV programmes. It’s a show if it’s a show format that happens over and over again (e.g. chat shows, quiz shows, ‘reality’ TV etc.) and it’s a series if it’s episodes which lead on one to the next. So Doctor Who is a series, and University Challenge is a show.

      1. If the series of episodes have a continuing plot, then it is a serial. Downton Abbey, for example.

  2. In my experience as a writer/journalist/hack, “to hospital …” has been around a long time over here (London, England)

  3. “Bullocks” would get you a weird look in Britain too. “Bollocks” is the word I think.but then I’m a guy who has almost completely given up Brit TV for the American stuff!

  4. Interestingly, we British say (or used to say) ‘I play the piano’ or ‘I’m learning to play the flute’ whereas US usage is not leave out the definite article – so the opposite of the hospital thing. I do find that ‘play piano’ etc. is gaining usage over here, however.

  5. My comment disappeared into cyberspace, so apologies if it comes up twice:

    From “Little Boxes” –

    And the people in the houses
    All went to the university,
    Where they were put in boxes
    And they came out all the same,
    And there’s doctors and lawyers,
    And business executives,
    And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
    And they all look just the same.

    But Americans also say “She went to college” – i.e. no article there!

    1. But they also ‘all go to the University’, whereas in the UK they would ‘go to university’. Mind you, the US usage re university is very different from the British – i.e. US people call it ‘school’, which still sounds really strange to me. Over here it’s often called ‘Uni’ (sometimes written ‘Yew-ni’ in jest).

  6. My feeling is that “uni” is an Australian term – I’m pretty sure it came from “Neighbours” (to American readers; that’s an Aussie soap, btw). Maybe there should be a second blog called Not Another Aussie Borrowing?

  7. I’m a bit late to this party, but the “in hospital” and “to hospital” (along with “Did you go to university?” and “university students”) are also used in Canada. You may view Canada as an extension of Britain, though, for linguistic purposes?

  8. My understanding is that going “to hospital” means going to an unspecified hospital whereas “going to the hospital” means the particular hospital is known to both persons conversing. Likewise with “in hospital and “in the hospital”.

  9. Pottering,
    Your understanding is correct. Much of the above comments, and the original post, is a lot of bollocks.

  10. I heard an American ask, ‘Why do you Brits say “in hospital”, rather than “in the hospital”?’
    An English colleague replied, ‘You don’t say “in the jail”, do you?’
    And, outside of the USA, a college and a university are very different things. A college can be a secondary school, a post-secondary trade school, or a constituent of a collegiate university. But only a university can grant degrees. I heard a young Malaysian woman say, ‘She said she was going to college. When Americans say that they mean “uni”, don’t they?’

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