When I was a child, the woody old bus usually comes to our village. I want to say that I miss that old bus, something like I miss someone or something.

But can it also mean that I didn't catch to see the old bus? I missed to see it?

How to make these two meaning a bit more clear when I talk to someone?

  • You could say "I miss riding that bus", to make it clearer that you're missing the experience, and you weren't merely late for arriving for a service that continues. Oct 13, 2017 at 17:38

4 Answers 4


There's really nothing you need to change. Many words in English have multiple meanings, and native speakers become quite used to figuring out from context which is intended:

I missed the bus

means you didn't get on it. The past tense establishes this is an action that has already happened, and by default, the listener will interpret this as "I failed to catch the bus".

English speakers use the present tense to describe regular or repeated action. Something like

I often miss the bus (because my alarm is broken)

would not be ambiguous, especially with "often", as that establishes the frequency of the action. A native speaker will know this means you regularly fail to catch the bus.

However if you say something like:

I miss the (old) bus

any native should know you intend the other meaning, "I have fond memories of the (old) bus". In this context, there is no adverb to establish frequency, plus the use of "old" establishes you are talking about something you remember.

Naturally this is not foolproof. For example:

I missed my friend.

Does this mean you failed to meet up with your friend, or that you used to have fond memories of your friend? We don't know without context:

I missed my friend so much (I got her a job in our home town so she would move back.)

The "so much" is enough to establish we're talking about nostalgia or longing to see someone.

I just missed my friend (at the train station -- she left right before I arrived.)

The "just" is enough to establish a the time frame, and indicate that you failed to meet up with your friend.


The word miss has multiple meanings.

  1. The present of miss is used to indicate the feeling of absence. I miss those old buses.

  2. The past form of miss is used to indicate being late for the bus, meeting, etc. I missed the bus in the morning.

  3. It gets a bit tricky if you want to express the feeling that you felt in the past. I would do it by adding a time period to indicate that it was not a single occurrence of missing a bus. I 've been missing such old buses for a long time.


The idiom you want for the first sentence is:

When I was a child, the woody old bus used to come to our village.

That characterizes the bus' visits as something which happened often in the past but no longer happens.

If you now cast miss in the present tense, the contrast of tenses will make it clear which sense of miss you intend, since the bus is no longer present to be missed in the other sense:

I miss that old bus.


So you're right, if you have:

I missed the bus

This can mean two things - that you had some memories of the bus that make you feel you want to see it again, or that you arrived too late to ride the bus and it was gone.

Often the right one is clear through the context of the conversation.

If you want to make it clear though you can say:

I missed seeing the bus

By adding a verb it immediately becomes clear. Also by adding a verb you are explaining more about what you missed. For example:

I missed seeing the bus

Could also be:

I missed riding the bus


I missed waving to the bus driver

Because 'I missed the bus' is very general and doesn't go into specifics.

I should also explain the difference between miss and missed.

I miss the bus.

Means that you have a feeling about wanting to see the bus again.

I missed the bus.

Means either as above, that you didn't get on the bus because you were late (or similar reason), OR, it means that you finally saw the bus again so your desire came true. A better example of this:

  • I miss my friend.

I haven't seen my friend for a long time. I wonder if he is okay?

  • I missed my friend.

I haven't seen my friend for a long time, and I wondered if he was okay, but today I saw him again.

  • You should rephrase your opening remark, as it's currently incorrect. I missed the bus would mean you had some memories – not that you have some memories. (You talk about this later in your answer, but your opening remarks seem misleading.)
    – J.R.
    Oct 13, 2017 at 16:24
  • I've changed it but now I think about it I think it could be had or have...
    – NibblyPig
    Oct 14, 2017 at 13:09

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