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Is it proper to say I am “going to prom”, or is it “going to the prom”?

If prom is short for promenade, then it is a verb but usage has made it a noun? Is prom a noun or verb?

closed as off-topic by Andrew Leach, p.s.w.g, tchrist, TrevorD, MetaEd Jul 17 '13 at 18:11

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It’s perfectly normal for high school students to ask one another

Are you going to prom this year?

It works like going to school or going to college or going to class or going to work. It doesn’t need an article.

If you add the definite article, it means you are talking about a specific prom. This posits a specific high school named “Eastside”:

Are you going to the Eastside prom?

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‘Going to the prom’ is the more common usage by far. (See this Google N-gram.)

As for parts of speech: ‘promenade’ can be either a noun or verb. It isn't really a special case, though — the word ‘walk’ behaves the same way:

We went for a walk. (noun)
Did you walk all the way to the store? (verb)

Prom, however, is always a noun. You can say

We went to the prom. (noun)

and nobody will bat an eyelash, but sentences like

We **prommed* last night. (verb)

are not standard English and will strike a native speaker as very unusual-sounding.

If you're confused about distinguishing English nouns from verbs in general, consider visiting a different Stack Exchange devoted specifically to questions from English language learners.

  • 2
    In the USA, a Prom is a yearly formal dance for the senior students at a high school (usually), or college (occasionally). There is only one prom per year per school, and it's local, so it's the prom, just like the school, the gymnasium, the boys locker room, etc. If you said a prom, it would refer to a different school or a different year. – John Lawler Jul 17 '13 at 16:19

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