I'd like to speak about cinema as an invention.
Do we say

The cinema was invented in 1895.


Cinema was invented in 1895.

  • Interesting. We'd certainly use 'The circus has been around for a lot longer' and, normally, 'The theatre ...'. With radio and television, perhaps to stress the media rather than the physical devices is intended, we'd drop the articles. It looks inconsistent. It's probably unusual to refer to 'the cinema' in the abstract. I'd opt for 'The first cinema (isn't that kinema?) was opened in ... Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 9:50
  • Who invented cinema:books.google.it/…
    – user66974
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 10:11
  • @Edwin I'd say it's exactly parallel to circuses and theatres: with the article, you're referring to a specific establishment; without it, you're referring to the spectacles that go on in the establishment. The odd one out to me is circus, because there simply isn't a word for what goes on there—you'd have to go with circumlocutions like circus acts or circusry (to make up my own). Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 12:40
  • I'd need to see where quotes are intended round 'circuses' etc in your comment. I can't rationalise 'I'd say it's exactly parallel to circuses and theatres: with the article, you're referring to a specific establishment' with the mix of plural and singular. And quotations including articled mass 'theatre': 'The theatre has always been very strong in Britain. Its center is, of course, London' / 'The theatre has always been voraciously omnivorous.' [Lee Hall]. Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 17:32

3 Answers 3


If you preface the noun "cinema" with 'the' then you are indicating, in BrE at least, the physical location where one goes to see a film/motion picture and one would not say the building was "invented".

If you leave off 'the' from the word "cinema" then you are referring to the collective noun meaning "motion pictures as an art form". So if you mean that the artform came into being in 1895 then the second sentence is correct. Though whether an artform is invented is probably debatable.

See Cinema (Cambridge Dictionaries)

However if you mean that the technology delivering motion pictures was invented in 1895 then just say that.

  • Very sane. From Wikipedia: The experimental film, Roundhay Garden Scene, filmed by L Le Prince on Oct 14, 1888 in Roundhay, Leeds, England, is the earliest surviving motion picture.... The first though to design a successful apparatus was W. K. L. Dickson, working under the direction of T A Edison, called the Kinetograph, and patented in 1891. This camera took a series of instantaneous photographs on standard Eastman Kodak photographic emulsion coated onto a transparent celluloid strip 35 mm wide. The results of this work were first shown in public in 1893 ... // 'Cinema came of age in 1895.' Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 10:17

It would be cinema was invented in 1895.

You'd use the cinema to talk about a theatre in particular, e.g. the cinema in Example Square was opened in 1950.

  • 1
    Could make for a good answer with a reference from a reliable source, some supporting argument, and the works.
    – Kris
    Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 12:39

If you mean 'cinema' (creating and displaying of motion pictures') as an art form (compare with theater or opera or dance)...


without an article is used. Compare:

Opera first came to New York in xxxx.

Dance was practiced by most Amerindians.

  • 1
    But *Circus first came to ... // Your reasoning isn't foolproof. Commented Dec 19, 2014 at 10:04

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