The cost of private school is higher than the cost of government school.
Different Versions of the Same Sentence
Look at these variations:
The cost of private education is higher than the cost of public education.
The cost of a private education is higher than the cost of a public education.
The Indefinite Article
Note that the second one uses the indefinite article “a”. This creates a subtle change in meaning.
the cost of private education – the cost of a public education
The first version refers to education in general.
the cost of private education
The second version refers to a specific situation. If a parent was debating the virtue of a private education or a public education for his or her child in particular.
the cost of a public education
Did you go to a private school?
Is private education common in your society?
Public and Private
A public toilet is a toilet that anybody can use. Many modern cities have free public toilets but some cities have pay toilets. Sometimes pay toilets are very expensive.
Do you think public toilets should be free?
Are there homeless people in your city?
Do expensive public toilets cause homeless people to use the street as a toilet?
Urine and Faeces
“Urine and faeces” means “piss and shit”.
Note the difference in register.
“Urine” and “faeces” are polite, technical or medical words. “Piss” and “shit” are the same thing but they are vulgar common words which we use in conversation.
Does your street smell of urine or faeces?
Some buses are public and some buses are private. Private buses are buses which are chartered and are used for special groups or special tours. Public buses are buses which generally run a set route at a set time and form part of the public transport network in a city
Is there a good public transport network in your city?
Public transport generally consists of buses, trains and sometimes other vehicles like public bicycles or mini-vans.
What kind of public transport is used in your city?
Do the trains run on time?
Public Schools and Private Schools
Public schools are schools which anybody can go to.
They are open to everybody. Education is compulsory in most countries.
The English Situation
The story of the public school in England is complex.
Schools were originally private and reserved for aristocrats and nobles. Then public schools were created for anybody who could pay. Most people could not afford to send their children to public school so in fact “public schools” were only for very rich people.
Public Schools which are Private
There are still some exclusive private schools in England and Australia which are called “public schools” because they are open to anybody who is rich enough to pay the school fees but they are not government schools.
Generally a public school is a government school so these old elite schools which are called public schools are actually private schools but they use the word “public”.
We see how words shift their meaning over time as society changes.
Did you go to a private school or a government school?
In British English, if we say:
I went to a public school
it may mean:
I went to a very exclusive and expensive private school.
What is the situation in your society?
Do most people go to government schools?
Are there exclusive private schools for rich people?