Which one is correct?
my uncle is in the hospital article or my uncle is in hospital.
He is in the prison or he is in prison.
could you clarify these articles whether the article 'the' should be included or not ?
Well this is a tough one, and I'm not sure if I have a full explanation for you. Buuuut, here are the corrent and incorrect versions (Green
= Grammatically correct Red
= Grammatically incorrect) and I will do my best to explain.My uncle is in the hospital.My uncle is in hospital.He is in the prison.
He is in prison.
Now this is a challenging one to explain, but I'm going to give it a try. In the hospital example, the "the" is definitely needed. Without it, the sentence does not work gramatically. And I would believe that in most GMAT cases this would be true.
Now in the prison example, both sentences are correct. The two sentences actually have two different meanings, both of which are grammatically correct. The first sentence: "He is in the prison" refers to any person in the prison. For example, "The prison guard is in the prison" or "The prisoner is in the prison". As you can see these sentences both just show that the prison guard and prisoner are both inside of the prison but not necessarily inside of a prison cell.
Now the second version of this sentence: "He is in prison" really refers to the prisoner only. "To be in prison" is an idiom that refers to a someone that has been locked up in prison. For example "The prisoner is in prison" works, BUT "The prison guard is in prison" would not hold the same meaning. This second example would actually refer to the prison guard having been locked up in prison which does not make sense (unless he broke the law). Can you see how the two sentences have distorted the meaning but are both grammatically correct?
I hope this helps answer your question. I would assume that this wouldn't be tested often on the GMAT because this is a very complex usage of idioms, one that I can not remember coming across. Although, the GMAT will try to distort meaning, but it will be almost impossible to learn this type of usage unless you're a native english speaker. The GMAT will not try to penalize you for not knowing advanced usages of the english idioms.