I watched the movie Sliding Doors shortly after it came out in the late 90s. At the time, I found it odd that the characters said, "hospital" instead of "the hospital."
Like, "My mother is in hospital."
It just didn't sound right. Incomplete. Everyone I know around in my piece of the U.S. would say, "My mother is in the hospital."
I've thought about it a lot over the years. The same language. Slightly different usage. Here, I think it's more often "the University" instead of just "University." But it's "college" not "the college." (YOUR MOM GOES TO COLLEGE.) But if I am going to school or court, I don't add the word "the" in front. It's just "Going to school." "Going to court." Why is THE hospital different as an institution? I don't know! And in England, do they get books at "library" or "the library"?
In recent years, I've started randomly adding "the" when I talk. I think it first started with characters on FRIENDS and/or BUFFY saying, stuff like, "Are you ready to have all the sex?" Oh, and also some awards show where Brendan Fraser came out with Dwayne Johnson (formerly known as The Rock) and repeatedly referred to himself "The Brendan Fraser!"
This habit of mine is getting worse and worse. Now I find myself saying that I'm going to "the Safeway," "the Costco," "the Taco Time." And I'll add "the" with cities, states, countries, holidays, books, movies, etc, etc. "We saw the Nightmare of You when we were in the New York for the St. Patrick's Day." (That's an extreme example, yes.) "We forgot to record the One Tree Hill last week when we went to the Ballard." "Remember when my legs got sunburned when we were in the Mexico?" "Did you read the CRACKED UP TO BE yet?"
It's wonder people still want to converse with me. (Or perhaps they don't!) Luckily, I save most of the ridiculousness for my husband and my sister.