Why Do We Say “Get On The Bus” But “Get In The Car”?

“Get on the bus” and “get in the car” sound quite similar to each other. But have you ever wondered why we say“get on the bus” but “get in the/a car” instead of “get on the/a car”? Here’s the reason why …



Bus and car are very common road vehicles that we use every day to move around. But when describing the same act of getting entered these types of vehicle, why do we have to use different phrasal verbs, “get on the bus” and “get in the car”? How different are they? Is there any grammar rule here that’s able to explain the difference between these 2 phrases? Well, if you want to know the answer to these questions, let’s go with us until the end of this writing, and after all, you will find out a very interesting English grammar rule that you might not know.

Get on (sth)vs get in (sth)meaning

“Get on” and “get in” are phrasal verbs with “get” and they are both widely used in English. Despite the fact that “get on” and “get in” have some other meanings, in this article, we just focus on their particular definitions in the cases of “get on (sth)” and “get in (sth)”. While “get on” in the phrase “get on the bus” means to put yourself on/in something (the bus), “get in” in this case means to enter a place. Well, as considering the meaning of these 2 phrases, we can see that they are a bit similar to each other but still can’t be used interchangeable. Let’s take a look at examples below here to better understand these phrasal verbs’ usage and meaning:

- I got on the train right before it left.

- He opens the door of my car and gets in.

Get on the bus vs Get in a car

After figuring out the meaning of phrasal verbs “get in” and “get on” in the previous part of this writing, it’s time for us to learn why it’s ok to say “Get on the bus” but not “get on a car”.

Imagine that when you enter the bus, you have to walk onto it first and stand up inside the vehicle or get to the seat if there’s an available one for you, right? That is the reason why we have to say “get on a bus”. We also use phrasal verb “get on” together with other types of transportation like train, boat, and plane that are all have space for you to walk around inside, such as “get on an airplane” or “get on the train”.

On the other hand, when you enter a car, you just directly get into your seat in the vehicle and don’t need to walk onto it before getting to the seat. That’s why we need to say “get in a car” instead of “get on a car”. Similarly, you can say “get in a taxi”, “get in a truck”, and so on.

There is an interesting rule here that you should remember. To describe the act of entering a vehicle, you say “get on” if you can walk onto it, if not you use “get in”. It’s quite easy to remember, isn’t it? And, of course, it’s still absolutely correct to say “get onto the bus” and “get into the car”.

In order to mention to the act of leaving the vehicle, you say “get off the bus” and “get out of the car”. That’s another important thing you should remember.


Though “get in” and “get on” are a bit similar in meaning, they can’t be used interchangeably, especially when you want to describe the act of entering a vehicle. Remember that they must be “get on/off the bus” and “get in/out of the car”. And other ways of using these phrasal verbs like “get on the car” or “get in the bus” don’t make sense. To always use them properly, you can keep in your mind one important rule that using “get on” if you can walk onto the vehicles (like bus, train, plane), if not you say “get in”.

After all, we really hope that this post does help you understand the grammar rule related to get on the bus and get in a car as well as widen your transportation vocabulary. If that’s the case, we are very, very happy for bringing you good knowledge of English.

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