Why "on a plane", "on a bus", but "in a car"?

It's hard to explain. How to explain that to English learners?

This question is not a duplicate. Please, try to understand what I ask.

How to explain that to English learners.

With the examples I gave.

  • 2
    This question comes up a lot here. The best rule is probably "if it's very large or you're literally on top of it, then it's on, otherwise it's in", but another good rule is "just learn how natives speak, because there isn't always a lot of consistency."
    – stangdon
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 16:30
  • The reason why I ask this question, if that this short explanation doesn't match with the examples I gave. I met the example of translation about a plane, and some people were asking the classic question why on/in. Someone gave this explanation, but not very well understood. If it's a big plane, use "in", and a small plane, use "on". I asked this question to have hints how to explain this to avoid confusion. "There is no consistency" is often a frustrating answer for new learners. And the reason why I ask this question is to know if someone else than me found a consistency.
    – Quidam
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 16:36
  • My question has not already been asked, please, people who like to report questions as already existing, try to understand what I'm asking, I know it's not always easy, as I'm not a native. But I'm asking about a way to explain it, IN THE examples I gave.
    – Quidam
    Commented May 2, 2017 at 16:38
  • 4
    The question How to explain that to English learners? is too broad and opinion-based. It's just how English works.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented May 3, 2017 at 16:28


Browse other questions tagged .