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The definition of "pull out" in the dictionaries is not clear enough.

oxford dictioary-pull out phrasal verb

​(of a vehicle or its driver) to move away from the side of the road, etc.

A car suddenly pulled out in front of me.

pull out (Cambridge) If a vehicle pulls out, it starts moving onto a road or onto a different part of the road:

A car pulled right out in front of me.

There are many situations like these:

1st, my car is on a very small road or trail or in my garage and I drive it into a big street.

2nd, my car is parking near the kerb of a street then I drive it into the middle of that street so that I can leave that place.

3rd, I am driving a car in a street and there is another car in front of me. I, then, drive my car a bit to the left or to the right of the ahead car so that I can overtake that car.

Can I say "I pulled out my car into the street" in all these situations?

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    Just I pulled out into the street. You can only use "pull out" like this if you're driving [a car, bus, etc.] or riding a motorcycle - or perhaps if you're riding a (non-powered) pedal bicycle, but that might be seen as a "quirky" usage by some. You can't "transitively" include the actual vehicle involved in the movement. Oct 13, 2022 at 17:18

3 Answers 3

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No, this use of pull out is always intransitive.

I pulled out my car makes no sense (it sounds as if I reached into a bag and pulled it).

I pulled my car into the street is grammatical, but means that I got in front and dragged it, with a rope or something. You might say this if you were pulling it with another car, but we'd be much more likely to use the verb "tow": I towed my car into the street. Either way, I was definitely not driving it.

Edit: it appears that pull out can be transitive in American English. A search in the GloWbE corpus for "pull* * car out" gives 11 hits from US, 2 from Canada, 0 from GB, and 6 from the rest of the Anglosphere. So it's not common, but it does occur, almost exclusively in the US.

Further edit: only 6 of those 19 hits are about driving the car (4 from US, 1 from Canada, and 1 from Ireland). The others are mostly about pulling a car out of somewhere with a rope etc. The iWeb corpus gets 226 hits, but I estimate that at most 30% of them have this meaning. So it's even less common than I first thought.

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    Quite common in my location to say, I pulled [my car] into the street, to mean you drove out of your driveway into the street. No rope is involved. Sometimes people will include my car in the phrase. Sometimes they won't. If the car was pulled into the street by a rope, they would probably say the same thing. Maybe they would include, by a rope.
    – EllieK
    Oct 13, 2022 at 17:39
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    Unheard of in the UK, but (as I've added to my answer) not unknown in North America.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 13, 2022 at 21:36
  • "Pull up" might be more common. That's used for driving close to something and stopping, e.g. the window at a drive-through restaurant/bank/etc., a gas/petrol pump (or charging station for the electric crowd), the side of the road, etc. To quote a popular TV theme song "I pulled up to the house about 7 or 8...". Not sure how well that translates across the Pond. Oct 14, 2022 at 15:17
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To my native (urban-ish US East Coast) ear, transitive "pull out" of a vehicle is perfectly idiomatic. However, one would not say "I pulled out my car", but rather "I pulled my car out". (However, both seem to be attested.)

Your first two situations seem acceptable, but the third does not. My best guess as to why, intuitively, is that positioning to overtake another driver in motion is an action in which your car itself isn't terribly salient (as opposed to moving it from a parking space or other static position), but it's also not a usage I'm particularly familiar with, so my judgement may be in error.

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    I would say that 3 doesn't seem right because you're already in the street so it doesn't make sense to go "into" the same street. I also feel like there's something about "pull out" that implies you're going from "parked" to "not parked". 2 still works because "street parking" and "street" are conceptually separate even if not physically separate. Oct 14, 2022 at 15:22
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Yes, "pull out" can be used in all three of your examples.

But you normally don't include your car as an object of the verb. Your car is understood.

So here's "pull out" used in your three situations:

  1. I pulled out from the trail onto the main road.
  2. I pulled out into traffic from the kerb.
  3. I pulled out in front of the other car.

The third one can also mean you pulled out of your garage directly into the path of an oncoming car on the main road, so context is important there.

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  • Almost always past tense. But #3 almost always means you caused a situation; not necessarily having to do with a garage, nor an accident, but if you made them have to hit their brakes then you cut them off by pulling out in front of them.
    – Mazura
    Oct 14, 2022 at 1:30
  • @Mazura What is "almost always past tense"?
    – gotube
    Oct 14, 2022 at 5:48
  • You don't have to always pull out, you can pull in. I pulled into the driveway. Pull into this parking lot. Oct 14, 2022 at 21:09
  • pull is usually past tense. Like how it is in both all of yours and the OP's examples.
    – Mazura
    Oct 15, 2022 at 0:36
  • @Mazura Are you merely observing that our example sentences are in the past tense, or are you saying that there's some rule that this expression should only be used in the past tense?
    – gotube
    Oct 15, 2022 at 18:43

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