She rides the bus to school every day.

I think that this sentence is ambiguous enough as to be read in different two ways; the one is that she is actually a bus driver who works for the affair, and the other is that she is not a bus driver, but a student who goes to school every day by bus. The reason why she can be a driver is that we use 'ride' in this case "A man is riding a horse." That is to say, the man is actually a driver of the horse. However, why is the sentence always read in the second way ? I don't understand why native speakers do. At least for me, there seems to be a tiny margin where it can be read in the first way.

1 Answer 1


You generally ride a two wheeler/animal if you are the one controlling it. However, if we are talking about four wheeler, and use 'ride,' it means that you take that vehicle to reach to your destination.

Note that if you are sitting behind someone and are on a two wheeler, you are riding pillion.

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    @EvaristeGalois - On a bus, riders are passengers, while a driver drive the bus. I don’t know if I’d call this a “rule” – it’s just how the words are used. An even odder one is on a train, where the person controlling is it called the engineer.
    – J.R.
    Jan 2, 2018 at 9:59
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    @J.R. In British English, the train driver. "Engineer" in that sense is one bit of AmE that hasn't penetrated here: many people would recognise it from American films etc, but out of context I don't think many people would think of it.
    – Colin Fine
    Jan 2, 2018 at 10:23
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    @ColinF - Good to know. I don’t think “driver of the train” would sound out-of-context in American English, either. I was just giving an example of how quirky our language can be. In any case, a rider doesn’t drive trains or busses, only bikes, motorbikes, unicycles, horses, elephants, and mules, as Maulik says here.
    – J.R.
    Jan 2, 2018 at 10:30
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    @EvaristeGalois - But "she is riding on the bike" could also mean she is a passenger. Both the person controlling the bike and a person who is just a passenger are "riding", when it's a bike, a motorcycle, etc.
    – stangdon
    Jan 2, 2018 at 18:31
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    @EvaristeGalois - Your thinking is indeed reasonable. However, sometimes idiomatic speech can be tricky and illogical. Although there is nothing ungrammatical about "She is riding on the bike", it's not how the sentence is normally structured. Many verbs associated with cycling don't typically use a prepositional phrase, but a direct object instead: He is riding his bike; she is pedaling the bike.
    – J.R.
    Jan 2, 2018 at 18:42

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