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Is it idiomatic to write: "He rides to the farm by bike."? In my opinion, you'd rather write "He goes to the farm by bike" or "He rides his bike to the farm".

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    He bikes to the farm. He walks to the farm.
    – Lambie
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 20:16

2 Answers 2

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No, it is not idiomatic to say "ride by bike". Riding is how one travels on a bike, so ride by bike sounds strangely redundant.

Google Ngrams shows how much less common "ride by bike" is than other "verb by bike" phrasings.

I suspect that some of the "ride by bike" examples that it has found are actually from sentences like "It is two hours' ride by bike", where ride is actually a noun.

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  • Unless it's a reaction to the statement that "he" is "riding to the farm", perhaps? To emphasize how he is riding?
    – Joachim
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 17:36
  • Thank you very much indeed for your answer. Commented May 12, 2023 at 18:21
  • There is no special emphasis intended in this sentence. It is just a statement that the person doesn't use public transport to go to the inner city farm he works for, unlike some colleagues who go there by bus. Commented May 12, 2023 at 19:19
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    I find the sentence to be idiomatic. Yes, it might be redundant, but not if we assume that there are other ways to ride to the farm. (Perhaps there are a horse and a tractor nearby.) (This is along the lines of what @Joachim is saying.) Commented May 13, 2023 at 0:03
  • I agree with you that He rides his bike to the farm is much more idiomatic - or He goes to the farm on his bike. Commented May 13, 2023 at 7:57
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This is pretty interesting actually.

If you said, "He travels to the farm by train" that would be 100% correct. When you travel on a train, you travel by train. You might travel on a train, but in the context of how you got to a place, if you got there via a train, you would say you got there "by train."

But that's not the case with a bicycle. You would simply say, "He bicycles to the farm."

English has a very strange habit of creating verbs from nouns. Bicycle is a noun. "He has a bicycle. It is red." The word was created to describe the thing.

Bicycle is also a verb. "He bicycles all over town. He doesn't like cars." We sort of made that up after the fact to describe people doing bicycle things.

So logically, you'd think a sentence like, "He bicycles his bicycle all over town" would work, but it doesn't. Instead you would say, "He rides his bicycle all over town."

"Ride" is of course the proper verb for this sort of activity and "He rides his bike to the farm" would be perfectly correct. You can replace "bike" in that sentence with any rideable thing: horse, motorcycle, hamster...And it will still make sense (might be a big hamster).

But, because bicycle is a "verbed noun", you can also say, absolutely correctly, "He bicycled to the farm" where you couldn't say "He horsed to the farm" or "He hamstered to the farm" (you could say "He motorcycled to the farm", though that's less common).

Just English being weird.

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    Is "he bicycles to the farm" idiomatic? More importantly, is "he rides to the farm by bike" idiomatic? The latter is the question here, and you don't seem to answer it :)
    – Joachim
    Commented May 13, 2023 at 8:54
  • He cycles to work. The most common verb is "cycle".
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented May 14, 2023 at 7:58

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