Hyphenated adjectives aside, is omitting the "the" in "on scene," "in studio," "on set" etc. any more or less correct than including it?

My inquiry stems primarily from curiosity about the use of "on scene" vs. "on the scene" by some reporters reporting from a specific crime scene: "Police are now arriving 'on scene' (instead of 'on the scene')."

I've also heard radio hosts announce: "My guests are now arriving 'in studio' (instead of 'in the studio')" and "My guests are now arriving 'on set' (instead of 'on the set').

Again, I'm not asking about hyphenated adjectives: antics of the on-scene/in-studio/on-set variety, for example. I'm asking about prepositional phrases with what appear to be specific objects (the specific scene/studio/set from which the reporter/radio host is reporting/broadcasting and on/in which the police/guests are now arriving).


  • 1
    In general, a prepositional phrase will include an article: He put the book on the table. / He had bought it in a bookshop the previous day. It's when expressions develop as fixed idioms that the preposition is dropped (that's really saying the same thing twice rather than offering an explanation). If unsure, you need to check on usage. Oct 15, 2014 at 15:33
  • These idioms sometimes differ between dialects. Americans go to the hospital, British go to hospital.
    – Barmar
    Oct 15, 2014 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


Including the "the" prefix makes it clear you're referring to a specific location. Dropping the prefix usually implies a general statement. "Tom Cruise never drops out of character while on set" because it's a general trend, whenever he's on a set. "Tom Cruise broke his ankle while on the set" because it happened on a specific set.


Omitting 'the' alters the meaning slightly to emphasize that some role is undertaken or status acquired, rather than a mere statement of location.

So the British say, "in hospital" for a person being treated there, but "in the hospital" for a person who is visiting there.

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