Do you say "second grade" or "the second grade"?

I was just writing to a friend and talking about my kid. At first I said “she’s in second grade” but I went back and edited it to say “she’s in the second grade”

They both look fine…but is one more correct than the other? What do you say? Maybe it is a regionalism…I’m in CA.

I say both, but I normally drop the definite article.

I say “grade two”, but I’m a Canadian.

I’d say “she’s in second class”.


I’m always “The second grade.”

I’m in Arizona, must be the same region.

I’d say “in second grade,” definitely. I’m from the New York City area.

I say, “grade two”.

Another “grade two”-er up in here.

I’d say either one, and I wouldn’t notice which I was using. California.

Either way seems fine to me, except that there is probably some subtle difference I can’t put my finger on at the moment.

Or putting it another way, I would be more likely to say “in the second grade”, but still, “in second grade” isn’t going to raise my innate Chomskyan grammatical hackles either.

To shed some light on this, I’ve always been interested in little grammatical questions of this type, and it so happens that I’ve spent much of my working life around Oracle databases. I’ve noticed that when we talk about database tables, the word “the” is omitted, or not, depending on the structure of the statement. One could say that they have “inserted some records into CUSTOMER_TRANSACTIONS”, or one could say they have "inserted some records into the CUSTOMER_TRANSACTIONS table. But if one says “inserted some records into CUSTOMER_TRANSACTIONS table”, then you know that the speaker is not a native speaker of English. For me, I think the “in second grade”/“in the second grade” dichotomy may be similar, but, as I said, I can’t nail it down.

I’d call it high school.


Fourthing or nthing or whatever the ‘grade two’.

I’d say, “In second grade.” Putting a “the” in there feels…fussy.

“in__” is an oddball constuction in regards to the article, though, isn’t it? We do things while “in college”, “in high school” or even “in jail,” yet one only does things while “in the Navy,” “in the hospital,” (US usage) or “in the NFL.”

If before 6th grade, I’d say (They’re in the (1-5) grade). After sixth grade , I’d drop the “the” part of that. ie. They’re in sixth grade, instead of ‘they’re in the sixth grade’

There’s a distinct difference between elementary school and intermediate school. I feel language should acknowledge that.

No definite article for any grade, but grade numbers only up through junior high. So, “in second grade”, but “she’s a sophomore” when she eventually gets there.

I never heard the article used until recently, and then usually on TV, so it probably is a regional thing.

I stand in line, too.

Speaking of, standing on line is something I’ve only heard in NYC. Are there other parts of the country where this is the standard phrasing?

This seems a bit like one of the linguistic splits we have between north CA and south CA…

Well, the first one is ‘hella’.

But the other one is how we refer to numbered freeways. A Northerner might take 580, but a Southerner will always take the 405. (And judging from the traffic, I sometimes think all of them do.)

Wiki article on the phenomenon.

And we in Ontario don’t use ‘sophomore’. I couldn’t tell you offhand what grade that is without checking a dictionary. We say ‘grade nine’ through ‘grade thirteen’ for high-school students. (Yes, I know, grade 13 was abolished.)

Usually just “second grade” but occasionally the flow of the sentence will have me add a ‘the’.