Why do we use "a" in "take a taxi" and use "the" in "take the bus"? What's the difference?

  • 4
    Because there may be many taxis on a given route, but generally only one bus. (And where this isn't literally true it still holds conceptually.)
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 20 '15 at 20:43
  • You usually take the same bus everyday to go to school or commute. The time and bus number (or school bus) rarely change. And when you say "I will take the bus", an interlocutor can assume or know which bus you are taking.
    – user140086
    Dec 20 '15 at 20:52
  • Possible duplicate of on the bus, in the car etc. vs. on a bus, in a car etc. Dec 20 '15 at 21:34
  • I say take a bus all the time, but then, there are five or six different buses that serve my stop, and it does not usually matter which one I take.
    – choster
    Dec 21 '15 at 4:17

Expanding on the comments a bit...

If you want to go somewhere by bus, you have to take the correct one. If you take the wrong bus, you will end up somewhere else. So you need to take the bus that goes to your destination.

A taxi will go wherever you want it to. In that sense, they are all interchangeable. So you can just take a taxi, and it will get you to where you were going.

  • 1
    But it is perfectly idiomatic and not at all unusual to take a bus. It is just that the indefinite article would be used in situations where perhaps you didn't have a specific bus in mind.
    – WS2
    Dec 20 '15 at 21:41

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