This week on Ask a Teacher, we answer a question from Sajjad in Iran. He asks:
Hello, could you possibly tell me which one is correct: “I travel by train” or “I travel with train”? And is there any article about this? I couldn't find one anywhere. -Sajjad, Iran
When we talk about means of transport, the prepositions we use depend on whether we are speaking generally or specifically.
When you are talking about general ways to travel, use the preposition “by.” For example, you can travel by train, by car, by bus, by truck, by plane, by motorcycle, by helicopter or by boat.
When you say, “I travel by train,” it means you usually or always take the train as your means of transport.
A more common verb when speaking of transport is “go.” For example, you can say, “I go by train.”
There is one exception to using the preposition “by.” When speaking generally about walking as your means of transport, use “on.” It is more common to say, “I travel on foot,” for example, than “I travel by foot.”
But note that we do not use “with” for any means of transport.
Now let’s discuss specifics.
When you are talking about a specific instance of taking or using transport, use “on” or “in.”
For trains, buses, boats and planes, use “on.” You might say, for example, “I’m on the plane now. I have to turn off my phone.”
For trucks, cars and helicopters, use “in.” You can say, “I’m in a taxi,” for example.
A simple way to remember whether to use “on” or “in” is this:
If you can stand up or walk inside the vehicle, use “on.” If you can only sit in the vehicle, use “in.” You cannot stand inside of a car, for example.
Here is another way to remember: For private transport, such as cars and trucks, use “in.” For public transport, such as trains, buses and planes, use “on.”
And that’s Ask a Teacher for this week.
I’m Alice Bryant.
Alice Bryant wrote this lesson for Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.
Words in This Story
article –n. a word used with a noun that shows if it is specific or general; the words: a, an or the
specifically –adv. showing something in a define or exact way
instance –n. an example of a kind of action or situation