What is the difference between pull over and pull away? I am still trying to get used to American English. It seems like if I do not understand the driving vocabulary I am going to fail in the driving test.

  • In general, "to pull away" will mean to put distance between yourself and someone or something else - it can be used in a literal or figurative sense.
    – user13141
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 5:30
  • Why is it you have to take it in English? I would have been positive that it would be available in other languages.
    – Jeremy
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 7:50
  • @Jeremy You obviously way overestimate the willingness of a real hallmark of American bureaucracy, the DMV, to do something to make life easier.
    – user13141
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 12:27
  • @Jeremy - the languages in which you can take the tests vary from state to state. IL, for instance, allows English, Spanish and Polish.
    – Dusty
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 14:05
  • I take "American English" to mean the OP is a native english speaker.
    – horatio
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 19:32

2 Answers 2


Pull over is an unambiguous (clear-cut) command to pull to the curb (that is, to the edge of a paved street) or onto the shoulder of a road, and stop.

The phrase pull away has multiple uses. One could order a driver of a parked vehicle to "Pull away now," meaning for you to maneuver the vehicle out of its parking spot and resume driving. Or one could say, "Pass that vehicle, pull away, and return to this lane," meaning to safely pass a vehicle and when clear of it return to your lane. (Driving instructors may say things like the above; I can't say whether any examiners would do so.)

  • "Pull over" doesn't have to be a command. It could just be a description of the act of driving your car off the road (usually to a soft shoulder) and bringing it to a stop.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Sep 26, 2011 at 13:11

Pull over = take your car off the road, onto the shoulder and stop.

Pull away = start up your car and go.

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