Would you tell me which one is more correct and natural: drive in a car or drive with a car? For example:

Because my car broke down, I had to drive home in a rental car.

Because my car broke down, I had to drive home with a rental car.

I haven't been able to find an answer on the internet, but I seem to have hear both used. If both are perfectly natural, is there a nuance or difference between the two?

  • When you say you hear both used, is this from native speakers? How often do your friends break down and rent cars? There are so many ways you could research this.
    – Astralbee
    Oct 26, 2022 at 14:55
  • @Astralbee: My sentence is just an example. My question focuses on the use of "in" or "with"? I'm not sure if the peopele use the prepositins were native speakers, which is why I asked this question. I'd appreciate it if you told me if both "with a car" and "in a car" is natural? For example: I go to work in my car, I go to work with my car. Oct 26, 2022 at 15:21
  • 1
    For the title question (where the word "rental" is not present), native speakers would just say "drive a car." Also sometimes "car" is omitted: "My car broke down, so I had to drive a rental home". Oct 27, 2022 at 23:27

9 Answers 9


"Because my car broke down, I had to drive home in a rental car." is the more correct.

The second option could (although it's not likely) be taken to mean that you had to drive home with a rental car accompanying you.

In the example given, with "in", it's unlikely to cause confusion, but a native speaker would probably find it odd. You don't typically say "I drove to work with my car".

  • This is right, and jives with usage like "Bob showed up in a Toyota Yaris", where we would never use with unless we are talking about a model car being carried.
    – Kaz
    Oct 28, 2022 at 6:17
  • @Kaz Don't you remember that last Corvette club meetup where Bob showed up with a Toyota Yaris? 🙂 Oct 29, 2022 at 19:21

You drive over (run over) things with your car.

I drove over a manhole cover with my car. It made a clink-clank sound.

I ran over the neighbors' pangolin with William's car.

You drive to places in your car.

I drove to Cincinnati in my car.

You can switch these around. People will still understand you but you may sound a bit odd.

  • Upvote for mentioning a pangolin, but downvoted for running over the pangolin, then upvoted again because pangolins are cool.
    – barbecue
    Oct 28, 2022 at 19:22

They're both correct, and "in" is more common.

Also consider:

Because my car broke down, I had to drive a rental car home.

You can also just say "a rental" rather than "a rental car". The car is understood from the context.

  • 11
    I don't find go/drive with a car at all idiomatic. Oct 26, 2022 at 15:30
  • 2
    @DmytroO'Hope either "in" or neither ("driving a car") is idiomatic, I don't consider "driving with a car" idiomatic at all, either.
    – Esther
    Oct 26, 2022 at 15:42
  • 2
    I drive over things with my car. I drive to places in my car. I was driving to Atlanta in my car when I drove over a pothole with my car.
    – EllieK
    Oct 26, 2022 at 18:06
  • 3
    @Acccumulation Technically you're right, but when I say something is "correct" to an English learner and leave it at that, I mean it's good, natural, idiomatic English, which is what I meant here. Others disagree, and I'm fine with that.
    – gotube
    Oct 27, 2022 at 3:31
  • 1
    @PeteKirkham "drove home with a rental car" can sound like you towed it along all the way home (similar to the shopping, which you carried with you)
    – Esther
    Oct 27, 2022 at 13:50

Your first sentence, using "in a rental car" is correct. Your alternative, using "with a rental car" is grammatical but odd, as using with normally means that the rental car accompanied you, not that it was your means of transport. I might say, for example, that I drove to Port Augusta with my car if my car was on a trailer behind the vehicle that I was driving.

In Australian English the word "rental" is not used as a noun, so "rental car" could not be shortened.

  • 4
    just to add that British English is the same - and we'd generally refer to 'a rental' as 'a hire car'. Oct 27, 2022 at 15:23
  • Nowadays I refer to them as ripoffs.
    – copper.hat
    Oct 29, 2022 at 20:16

From some viewpoint, U.S. English, there's no need to say "car" at all in these sentences, in the sense that it would sound odd to a U.S. native speaker. "I drove to NYC in a car" is just slightly less weird than "I drove to NYC with a car". In real life, people would say "I drove to NYC."

"My car broke down, so I had to drive home in a rental." sounds normal. Of course it's a rental car. Saying "rental car" would be a bit verbose, but still sound normal.

"with a rental (car)" would definitely sound abnormal here...

  • 1
    These days "I drove to NYC" may imply you drove in a car, though some might expect you to drive a truck. A hundred and fifty years ago it might be a horse and cart.
    – Peter
    Oct 27, 2022 at 5:22
  • I still like Kenobi's answer to not use any preposition, at least in certain cases: "My Jag is in the shop so I have to drive a crappy rental all week." Oct 28, 2022 at 10:02

Why not simply, "I drove a rental car home?" No need for prepositions.

  • 1
    or I had to drive a rental car home. Oct 28, 2022 at 0:51

As others have said, in is correct here and with is not.

Even though, in many other contexts, you can use with to identify what you used to do something, that doesn’t work for vehicles. Similarly, you ride in some types of vehicle (as if they were compartments that move) but on others (as if they were platforms that move). It’s very arbitrary.

If I want to emphasize the mode of transport, I would use by, for example:

Because my car broke down, I got home by bus.

Because of my fear of flying, I crossed the ocean by boat.

“I had to drive by rental car” sounds odd, unlike those examples, but a little less odd than “with a rental car.” I’m not sure why, but maybe it’s because drive-by has another meaning in American English. (It will probably not surprise you that “drive-by shootings” are common here.) A better alternative is to make the car the direct object of drive:

Because my car broke down, I had to drive a rental car home.

This is how I would probably say it. In this context, you could informally say, “I had to drive a rental home,” and let the other person infer that you were driving a rental [car to your] home, not driving a rented home on the street.


While I appreciate the above answers, there is a sense in the sentence, when using 'with' that I should report. Take a brief look at the definition of the instrumental case for nouns, ignoring for a moment that 'with' is a preposition. From Wikipedia:

In grammar, the instrumental case is a grammatical case used to indicate that a noun is the instrument or means by or with which the subject achieves or accomplishes an action.

Here the use of 'with' in 'with a rental car' is describing how I resolved the problem of my car breaking down. The instrument used was with a 'rental car'.

In this conversation, how I resolved the problem is an important idea. I am saying, the rental car was instrumental to me in resolving this problem. In reading the first sentence, the use of 'in', is simply a place preposition.


Before cars, driving was a verb used for horses attached to a cart. The driver would sit in the cart and drive the horses (to make it move). The car is the modern equivalent. People say driving my car analogous to driving the horses and driving in my car analogous to driving (horses) while in the cart. Using with does not sound natural. However I might say "I had to come home with a rental car" to highlight being without my own car.


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