There are two pair of sides on a bus: the front and the rear, and the left side and the right side. The question is how do you specify which pair of sides you are talking about without sounding like an alien from Mars? I am thinking "short side", but I am not sure if that's any good. It sounds horribly vague and I am not even sure you can call it the short side, or short sides.

For example:

He was looking at the guy on the other side of him, on the short side of the bus.

  • Front and back are not "sides". – Michael Harvey Apr 12 '19 at 23:00

In mathematics, a rectangular bus has 6 "sides," but in English, when talking about vehicles, "side" always means the parts of vehicles that are perpendicular to the axis of travel (and not the bottom or top).

That is, a bus has two sides, a front, and a back. The front and the back are the "ends" of a bus. (Note that, in ships, "front" becomes "bow" and "back" becomes "stern.")

So in your specific example, if the first person is sitting up at the front of the bus and looking back at someone in the back of the bus, you would just say:

He was looking at the guy at the back of the bus.


He was looking at the guy at the other end of the bus.


He was looking at the guy at the backend of the bus.

This last sentence combines the information of both the other sentences into one: the person being looked at is in the back and suggests that the person doing the looking is not in the back (though it is not clear where that person is).


You raise an interesting question. There's no difficulty talking about seats near the front or rear of the bus or seats on the other side of the aisle.

However, if you need to specify which side of the aisle a passenger is sitting, you also need to specify whether you are viewing the bus from the front or the back.

You can also say that the passenger was sitting in a seat directly behind the driver or across the aisle from the driver - although this is merely a relative position.

Driving schools refer to the near side and off side of vehicles, the near side being the side closest to the kerb.

How much sense that would make to Joe Bloggs, never mind a Martian visitor, is another matter altogether.


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