I heard a person say " there is no room on the bus ". It for some reason sounded incorrect. However the most basic argument that we hear is that if it is a public transport, we use "on" but buses also have gates that get closed.

So Can it be " There is no room in the bus"

Advise please ?

  • 1
    There are odd "rules" for using on/in when referring to modes of transit. You would be "on" a bus but "in" a car, "on" a boat but "in" a canoe. Ad nauseum.
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 24, 2015 at 17:56
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    Buses do not have gates. Farms and palaces and gardens and cities have gates. Buses have doors. And yes, both in and on work here, but they emphasise different things: on emphasises that the bus is a means of public transportation, so it means “there’s no room (for more passengers)”, whereas with in, you simply see the bus as a box on wheels that’s able to contain something. Jul 24, 2015 at 17:57
  • @JanusBahsJacquet The problem with what you said is that nobody says, "Get in the bus." Jul 24, 2015 at 18:01
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    @Tkdestroyer2 No, because when you tell someone to step from the outside to the inside of a bus, you usually do so thinking about it as a means of transportation. If you think of someone who has an old decrepit, falling-apart bus in his backyard, where he keeps a little workshop for tinkering with stuff, and you go to his house asking his wife where he is, she would be more likely to say, “He’s in the bus out back” than “He’s on the bus out back”. In that context, the bus is just a container, not a means of transportation. Jul 24, 2015 at 18:04
  • Metro is also a public transport like you guys have tubes. So will we say " I am on the metro" coz once the people are aboard the doors get closed and we are in it. Jul 24, 2015 at 20:45

2 Answers 2


Being a native-English speaker, I would never say in the bus. However, the preposition on also sounds odd when we compare the meaning as it means something is in touch with the ground and open also (not always). The preposition in means we are surrounded. One interesting point is that in English we always use the preposition on with public transport, for example: on the bus, on the train, on the plane and on the airplane.

One day a friend of mine (from India) he asked me:"Why we use the preposition on instead of the preposition in?" I couldn't answer the reason behind this. But I said to him I am used to it and since my childhood I have been speaking this. However, I also wanted to confirm this, so I went to my grandpa and asked him. He told me some reasons which he believed could be behind this. He said to me: "In the old days buses were open so it started from there, and all are the public transport so we have to pay the fare and we use the preposition on for the rent " He also mentioned these are the reasons he believes, but he was enough confident so I trusted him.

If you are from India, it will sound odd to you as it sounded odd to my friend also. But please keep in mind English doesn't work the way as your respected language works.

Let me add one more thing here, I could say in the bus but there must be different conditions for example: if a bus is not moving at the moment and we are using that bus as a room, so I could say we are in the bus, but if the bus is moving and I am traveling I would never say in the bus.

Let me make it more clear. If a bus driver is driving and at the same moment someone calls and asks him: "Where are you?" if he is driving then he must say on the bus, now let's say he is resting and someone calls and asks him: "Where are you?" in this case he could say I am in the bus and having some rest as the bus not traveling at the moment.

I hope, it clears the air.

  • Hi Mike, with all due respect, I don't think it has anything to do with what country iI am from. What I am looking for a English rule that will help me understand the concept. Jul 24, 2015 at 19:02
  • @UtkarshaTiwari I am so sorry, if I have hurt you but please keep it in mind the prepositions always come from our first language. Let me tell you the Americans say "on the team" but in the UK, we never say "on the team", we always say "in the team". They also say "on the street" but we say "in the street". I never wanted to hurt you but it matters and the prepositions are very complicated and tricky in English. Even I am still not sure about your location, I simply guessed.
    – Mike Jr
    Jul 24, 2015 at 19:07

Trains came before buses. You get on and off a train. We think of a train as being in motion -- it stops briefly at little stations -- so we rush to get on it before it continues moving. Also, a train is long. Think about standing ON a line painted on a playground.

You can extend this to buses.

I hope this helps you get a feel for it. I sympathize -- prepositions are a pain!

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