“in the bus” or “on the bus”

I know that, when we travel by bus we say, “I am on the bus”, but how about for objects, for example

There must be a cell-phone charger in the bus.


There must be a cell-phone charger on the bus.


4 Answers 4


It's a good question. I'd have to say either can be correct -- as you point out, people ride on the bus, but this doesn't necessarily apply to objects that can be inside the bus. It's more a matter of preference and of context.


I can't find my phone?
Did you leave it in/on the bus?

There's a kid's song, it goes something like, "The wheels on the bus go 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round, 'round and 'round'"

I'm going to get there early to make sure we get a seat on the bus.

To a certain extent, objects that are part of the bus are on the bus, and those which can be removed are either in or on the bus. But I don't think this is any kind of rule, and there may be exceptions.


I don't believe there are any rules about this. I humbly disagree with the example above

I can't find my phone?
Did you leave it in/on the bus?

Most people would almost always say they left their phone "on the bus". The only time I can think when we (USA) say "in the bus" is when there is some need to distinguish it from "outside of the bus." The example that almost instantly popped in my head is when taking a bus on a camping trip:

I don't like sleeping in a tent, so I think I'll sleep in the bus instead.

Not only are we implying "not outside the bus," but there's also a sense that the bus has been parked. Furthermore, "on" would be perfectly acceptable in this situation.


When you ride on a bus, usually you are in the bus.

If you use

There must be a cellphone charger on the bus

it would mean somewhere within the bus either someone might have a charger or the bus company supplied one for general use on the the bus. The charger itself would be considered to be in the bus.

in the bus

describes the location relative to the bus

on the bus

describes something which is accompanying the bus during its travel.


You usually use the preposition "on" in front of "a/the bus" whether you are talking about someone or something.

The use of the preposition "in" is far less commom (Longman Dictionary). So we should avoid using the "in".

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