My non-native friend used the following sentence: I ride bike everyday. (referring to bicycles)

I tried convincing him, that it was wrong, but I don't actually know why.

Can you explain it better? Or am I wrong?

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    You would say "I ride a bike every day." unless you ride multiple different bikes every day, in which case you would say "I ride bikes every day.". – Max Williams Oct 3 '16 at 8:23
  • Interesting. "I throw frisbee every day" sounds okay to me. – Brad Oct 3 '16 at 8:25
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    Brad - that sounds very American English to me. In the UK we'd be more likely to say, "I throw frisbees every day," or "I play frisbee throwing every day." – Rory Alsop Oct 3 '16 at 8:31
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    @k1eran - Given that it's a valid verb, the only thing "informal" about "bike" in your example is that "bike" is a shortened form of "bicycle" and hence may cause some starches shirts to crinkle. – Hot Licks Oct 3 '16 at 12:25
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    @Brad - That sounds a hair "off" to me, but then I'm not a frisbeeist. – Hot Licks Oct 3 '16 at 12:26

Bike is a countable noun, so has a singular and plural form and takes a definite or indefinite article (the/a/an). Therefore Max Williams comment shows the correct usage. If you take an uncountable noun like sugar, then you would say "I eat sugar every day".

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    This is sadly far too simplistic an approach. Pillion 'is a count noun', but She rode pillion is totally acceptable. Similarly with piano / He plays piano in the school orchestra. 'Countness' is not essentially a property of a given noun but of a particular usage (Two coffees, please / Coffee is bad for you). And certain verbo-nominal constructions (break camp, weigh anchor, ride pillion ...) are quite possibly better not analysed further. – Edwin Ashworth Oct 3 '16 at 9:45
  • Yes it is a simplification in that there are exceptions, but I'd argue as a general rule it does explain why the OP's sentence sounds wrong. A few words have made the crossover, and it would be interesting to understand why they are acceptable without an article. 'Two coffees' only works because it's short for 'two cups of coffee'. Maybe 'He plays piano in the school orchestra' sounds acceptable because the speaker doesn't want to specify how many pianos are in the school orchestra. – JonLarby Oct 3 '16 at 10:40
  • "The vacation includes seven breakfasts, one lunch and four dinners."  But "I eat breakfast every day.",  "Let's have dinner." – Scott Oct 4 '16 at 5:24

It's mainly that the usage is not idiomatic, due to the "count noun" thing, as described by JonLarby. But English treats that as sort of "advice", not a hard-and-fast rule, and there are dozens of exceptions.

However, even though there are exceptions, knowing about "count nouns" is valuable for an English learner, since observing the "rules" will rarely get you into trouble -- you just won't be using the language fully.


Yes, you are correct. The sentence that has been used by your non-native friend is flawed.The word,'ride', can be used as transitive and intransitive verbs. In his or her sentence,the word,'ride' has been used as a transitive verb. If he or she placed a preposition, 'on', after 'ride' , it would be a correct sentence also.But the error in his or her sentence is that an indefinite article,a, has not been applied/used before a countable noun,'bike'.

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