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Origin/reason for the expression “on the bus” instead of “in the bus”

I want to know when to use " get in the bus." and " get on the bus." I will thank you If you give me the right answer.

  • 1
    Wow. I wish I had thought of this example when I was leaving this comment a few days ago. On the bus – what a great example to illustrate how on doesn't always mean atop or attached to. Truth is, prepositions are very versatile words with several usages, nuances, and idiomatic meanings. I suppose we get "on" a bus for the same reason we get "on" a train – because it's short for getting "on board" the bus – but, until now, I hadn't thought much about in being a better word.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 9:51

1 Answer 1


You never get in the bus unless it's a small bus the size of a car; you always get on the bus. But you get in a car not the other way around. I guess, it has to do with the size of these machines.

  • Generally speaking, Noah, I'm in agreement with you, although, in some locales, there's a big difference between being on the bus, and in the bus, as is depicted here.
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 9:57
  • @J.R. In that case I would never get in there. On seems to be more comfortable. Thank you for the picture.
    – Noah
    Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 10:54
  • I don't know if you can get on the bus if it's not taking you from one point to another. If you're looking for a place to hide from criminals and see an out-of-service bus, I think you'd say get in the bus. Commented Sep 22, 2012 at 11:23

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