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Can "drive someone home" be used when the vehicle is a motorbike? Can I use "ride someone home" with the same meaning as "drive someone home"?

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"Ride someone home" implies you're riding on their back, or something like that. It could also be taken as a sort of unintentional sexual innuendo. The phrase you're looking for is "give someone a ride home". – Jon Purdy Nov 14 '10 at 5:33
... which still can be taken as an innuendo. – Cyril Jun 1 '11 at 11:30
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Well the original definition of "to drive" was to compel something to move by force.

For instance, the phrase "I drive my friend" could have an entirely different connotation if you add "to succeed in sports". Now you're driving him morally, not within a car.

The word drive is, in this way, very flexible. The original definitions extends to metaphors and analogies, meaning any time you're influencing something towards a certain ends you can consider it driving.

Therefore, yes- you can grammatically say you "drive you friend" on a motorbike.

The reason it sounds strange is because any time you're talking about a motorbike you expect to hear the word "ride", not "drive". This is simply a common cultural pattern. In your specific case, however, saying you "ride someone home" is not the same as "drive someone home".

"To ride" is to be in or on something that is moving. Thus, if you "ride your friend home", you're on your friend's back and riding him like a horse =)

If you want to use the word ride, try:

"I gave my friend a ride home", or "I rode my friend home on my bike".

Note that the second is acceptable because the preposition "on" clearly identifies the direct object (the object being ridden), which leaves the other noun ("my friend") to be the indirect object - one who is affected by the act of you riding the bike.

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I don't think a native speaker would say "I rode my friend home on my bike." – Marthaª Nov 14 '10 at 14:19
Martha: I don't believe I've ever heard it used natively, either, but it's grammatically correct and I was simply trying to construct a correct sentence with a structure closely approximating his. "ride someone (my friend) home". – stevendesu Nov 14 '10 at 17:27
@Martha: Anecdotally... in rural northeastern USA I've heard "I rode him home," "Can you ride me home?" etc. quite a bit without speakers or listeners indicating there's any innuendo or any meaning but "give a lift home in your vehicle". Native speakers do say it in some places! – aedia λ Jun 1 '11 at 17:20
@Martha, @steven_desu Have a look at this ngram for 'ride me home' as well - it's not common but there are a number of uses involving cars and bikes. (I found it too hard to come up with a phrase like "ride him home" that wasn't full of horses so I didn't try looking for that one...) – aedia λ Jun 1 '11 at 17:33

I would describe this situation as 'giving someone a lift home'.

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