I couldn’t find these explanation of exactly how the rules of articles apply in questions like this:

  • Why do people go to zoos?

  • Why do people go to zoo?

  • Why do people go to the zoo?

It’s not a question about a specific zoo, but about zoos in general.

The first variant sounds correct, but I’m not so sure about the second and third.

Are there scenarios in which both are acceptable, such as spoken English versus formal writing?


Why do people go to zoos is correct and would be my choice.

Why do people go to zoo is grammatically incorrect, because the singular "zoo" is missing an article.

Why do people go to the zoo is grammatically correct but a bit odd. Colloquially, the phrase "go to the zoo" does not imply any particular zoo; for example, the sentence "why does a person go to the zoo?" is perfectly correct. But with the plural subject "people", I think using "zoos" (plural) is more correct, unless you mean a group of people all going to the same zoo.

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  • It's at least possible (though I don't actually know) that Americans are less keen on going to the zoo than Brits. But children go to the zoo more frequently than they go to Disneyland is fine by me, and was most likely penned by an AmE writer. – FumbleFingers Jun 11 '14 at 20:18
  • @FumbleFingers I'm american and we always used the phrase going to the zoo when I was growing up. I don't know about americans in general. – 6005 Jun 11 '14 at 22:57
  • "go to the zoo" is an extremely common phrase in AmE and is usually used in the form of a question: "Do you want to go to the zoo?" Ngram support. – MrHen Jun 14 '14 at 14:48
  • @MrHen Of course it is, but in your example ("Do you want to go to the zoo?") and in all the examples I can think of, it is a single person or a group of people going to the same zoo. In this case, I really doubt Why do people go to the zoo is completely acceptable, because you are talking about multiple zoos. – 6005 Jun 14 '14 at 20:42
  • I guess then, this variant is best avoided since there is an alternative people can agree is perfectly correct ( Why do people go to zoos? ) – Ankush Jain Jun 16 '14 at 8:32

The first and third options are correct in American English:

Why do people go to zoos?

Why do people go to the zoo?

The second is incorrect and should be avoided.

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