I was reading an article in The Independent (an interview of a native English speaker) and I read the following sentence:

We travelled across by the boat to Mljet National Park . . .

Shouldn't we say "by boat" instead ?


We travelled across by boat, by train, and so forth, with no article, is usual when you are speaking merely of the mode of transport you are using. It is equivalent to We took a boat, a train, and so forth.

By the boat, the train, and so forth imply a particular boat or train—usually ‘the’ regularly scheduled boat or train or whatever to that particular destination.

We traveled by the 7:48 to Birmingham.
We traveled by the Brussels ferry.
I took the #87 bus downtown.

This is probably why Ms. Coleman speaks of “the boat to Mljet National Park”. As Vic suggests, we would ordinarily keep across to together if we were speaking of the park as our destination; but Ms. Coleman is probably using “to Mljet National Park” to distinguish which boat: the one which goes to that park as opposed to other boats which go to other locations on the island, or to other islands.

  • The question of that answer is Where has seduced you? - is it okay? What sort of ellipsis it uses? Also, what about the word order? Is it like boatseller said (that I agree too) it's okay in speech? – Maulik V Apr 21 '14 at 12:38
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    @MaulikV It's not uncommon, colloquially, to use Where? for What place?. – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 21 '14 at 12:46
  • While correct, these examples notably change the statement from the original question. "We travelled across by the red boat..." differentiates the red boat from other boats. The original statement indicates a single boat so the inclusion of "the" differentiates the boat from other non-boat things. – Johns-305 Apr 21 '14 at 13:47
  • @boatseller How can you tell that she is distinguishing that boat from non-boats rather that boat from other boats? Both your reading and mine rest upon implicature and inference; and since the map suggests that the only non-boat mode of transport to Mljet is swimming, I'll stick with my reading :) – StoneyB on hiatus Apr 21 '14 at 13:52
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    Mljet Nat'l Park is on an island so the speaker "travelled across" water. – Johns-305 Apr 21 '14 at 14:26

There is nothing specifically wrong with that statement.

"by boat" vs "by the boat":

Using "by the boat" implies that there is an alternative to the boat for crossing, such as a bridge.

  • Do you agree with the word order as Vic is pointing? – Maulik V Apr 21 '14 at 12:21
  • If it were originally written, you would typically find "by the boat" at the end. However, since this is likely quoted speech, it's fine. The speaker might have wanted to reveal the boat before the park for a certain effect. – Johns-305 Apr 21 '14 at 12:35
  • +1 after reading StoneyB's answer! But again, do you agree with the arrangement of the words? Okay, it's speech and thus a bit informal touch is okay. Thank you! – Maulik V Apr 21 '14 at 12:35

Articles are not used before common nouns in some cases: We went there by boat. We went there on foot. Make way for me. Make room for me. They lost heart. Learn the poem by heart. They work by day. They went by land. Send word to your father. The house caught fire. The man begs from door to door.

But to mention some particular boat, train etc. THE can be used. We crossed the river by the boat (a particular boat). We went to Kolkata by the 7:30 train.(The particular train which starts at 7:30.) Hope, it is clear now.


That's not the only mistake. The correct way to write it would be:

"We travelled across to Mljet National Park by boat.

Adverbs of manner go before the main verb, after the auxiliary verb or at the end of the sentence. When there are two or more adverbs in the same sentence and there is a verb of movement, such as "go", "come", "leave", travel", then the adverbs come in the following order: place-manner-time

I know that this was not what you are asking about, but there were two mistakes.

As for "By boat", there's nothing to explain; we always say."by boat","by bus", "by train",etc.

  • The concern is why put the. Everybody is fine with by boat. – Maulik V Apr 21 '14 at 12:22
  • I don't agree that by boat needs to be at the end of the sentence. – user230 Apr 21 '14 at 12:27
  • @snailplane but it's not incorrect either, is it? – Maulik V Apr 21 '14 at 12:29
  • Dropping "to" from the original sentence significantly changes the meaning. – Nigel Harper Apr 21 '14 at 12:30
  • @NigelHarper If we drop to from the original sentence, does it even mean something? You mean - We travelled across by the boat Mljet National Park, don't you? – Maulik V Apr 21 '14 at 12:33

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