I know English uses a definite article with the names of government institutions (eg: the White House, the State Capitol and the Pentagon, etc.). But I don't know if it's the same case with the names of schools, colleges and universities that are run by a particular local government. The college I go to is also a government institution and it's name is "Government Polytechnic". Would it be grammatical, if I used a definite article before my college name? (Note: There is one such college in each district of my state.)

1 Answer 1


Probably not, although as it is a proper name, any institution can call itself whatever it likes to.

In the U.S., most colleges do not use the article, such as Columbia University, Harvard University, etc. However, what most people call Ohio State makes a point of letting anyone who will listen that they are The Ohio State University (even though their normal initialism is OSU, not TOSU. As per Wikipedia--The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State or OSU, is a public research university in Columbus, Ohio.

However, when the word College, University or the like comes first, most people will insert the article in everyday speech: I went to the College of New Rochelle. Wikipedia says--The University of Kentucky (UK) is a public co-educational university in Lexington, Kentucky. (Note the lack of bolding on "the".)

Other exceptions do exist: Wikipedia states--The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly referred to simply as Cooper Union, is a privately funded college located in Cooper Square in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.

  • The name "Government Polytechnic" doesn't consist of a proper noun, it just consists of two common nouns like (eg: Post Office, Police Station, City Hospital.) We use a definite article before the above examples, but why can't I use a definite article before it? Jul 18, 2015 at 15:39
  • Make note of how other people in your area refer to your school. The guidelines in my answer are not hard and fast rules, just tendencies. Plus, they are U.S. examples only. In the U.S., we say "the Post Office" too, because each building is part of one nationwide system that can only operate if it has thousands of locations. Here, even in a state university system with many locations (such as the State University of New York), each location is somewhat autonomous and has its own name (e.g. SUNY at Albany) . That contracts to "Univ. at Albany," or in context, "I go to the Univ. at Albany." Jul 18, 2015 at 18:35
  • This reminds me of my alma mater, which insisted on calling itself "The George Washington University" with the "The" at the front. Mar 4, 2020 at 20:30

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