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I don't quite understand the usage of articles in such sentences.

As other example: "He goes to home by car". Grammar helper services suggest that I should not use an article there, but I don't understand why "He goes to home by a car" is invalid.

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  • If we want to use the indefinite article, we use a different preposition: He goes home in a car, or I am traveling on a train. Oct 27, 2022 at 20:16
  • Does this answer your question? which one is correct- Let's go on a bus/go in a bus/ go by a bus? Itself closed as a duplicate, but not before being answered with When we're speaking of the mode of transport and not a specific vehicle we omit the article: "Let's go by bus", just like by {horse / train / car / airplane / boat / bicycle}, &c. Oct 27, 2022 at 22:22
  • Well, the answer there covers it, but it's a different question and main objective is different (more about the usage of in/on/by). Not sure whether it's a duplicate or not. Oct 28, 2022 at 11:19
  • He goes home, not to home.
    – mdewey
    Oct 29, 2022 at 12:21
  • "by a train" sounds like "near a train", while "by train" is "via train"
    – Esther
    Oct 30, 2022 at 3:38

2 Answers 2

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"By a train/car/whatever" is not idiomatic. When we say "by (means of transportation)" we don't use an article. That is just the idiomatic way to say it.

When we say "by car" or "by train", we are referring to car or train as a general phenomenon. If we say "a car", it sounds like we're talking about "one of many possible cars", but that's not what we mean; we just mean that we use car as a means.

But we do use an article or other determiner if we phrase the sentence differently:

I take a/the train to work
I drive my car home every day

Only with by do we use no article.

(By the way, we also say "go home", not "go to home", because home in this context works like an adverb describing direction.)

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Correct: I travel by train. (Correct: I travel on the train.)

Incorrect: I travel by a train.

Correct: He goes home by car. (correct: He goes home in a car/in the car/in their car/ in our car/in my car.)

Incorrect: He goes home by a car.

By is used to say how we travel. We use by + noun without a/the/my etc.

They went by train. (NOT by the train)

I went by car. (NOT by my car)

by car/by bicycle/by bus/by train/by plane/by boat/by ferry/by ship

We use in for cars and taxis.

He came in a car. He came in the car. He came in a taxi. I came in their car. She went in my car.

but 'on my bike', 'on the boat'

We use on for bicycles and public transport.

They went on the train.

on the 4;30 train, on the plane, on the ferry, on the ship,

On foot means walking. I came on foot.

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