Please read the following sentences:

  1. My bike has had two punctures in the last three weeks.
  2. I got a flat tyre.
  3. My bike got a flat tyre.
  4. My bike got punctured or The tyre of my bike got punctured (Which one is correct?)

In the first sentence, from Cambridge, 'puncture' is used as a noun. But can it be used as a verb, like in the third and the fourth sentences?

Could you help me understand when to use flat tyre and when to use puncture ??

Consider the situation -

If I am late to the office and I want to give this excuse of puncture, then how should I frame my sentence? And will that sentence be applicable to bicycles, bikes, cars, buses (public transport) or any other transport.

Is the word 'puncture' used in American English ??

  • 1
    Look up "puncture" in some dictionaries.
    – F.E.
    Nov 10, 2014 at 0:31
  • @F.E. The question is not about the definition, but whether it is accepted common usage. Nov 10, 2014 at 1:23
  • @200_success Often the dictionaries will also provide typical examples. Such as, in one dictionary there is:: puncture - noun - a small hole in a tire resulting in an escape of air: "she was on her way home when she had a puncture." -- verb - sustain a puncture: "the tire had punctured and it would have to be replaced."
    – F.E.
    Nov 10, 2014 at 4:33
  • @F.E. But most dictionaries don't provide much guidance as to whether it is accepted common usage — only that it is possible. Nov 10, 2014 at 4:35
  • @200_success Usually the general-use dictionaries provide accepted common usage examples.
    – F.E.
    Nov 10, 2014 at 5:06

4 Answers 4


The sentences 1, 2 and 3 are grammatically correct, but it will be more appropriate if we also use "had" instead of "got" in the second and the third sentences like the first one as "had" is the more usual verb used in such sentences.

The adjective "flat" is usually used in American English, whereas the noun puncture is common in British English. We can also say "I had a puncture or my bike had a puncture". Similarly, the "flat" can also be used as a noun in American English such as I had a flat.

As for the last sentence, "puncture" can be used as a transitive or intransitive verb such as my bike/the tyre of my bike punctured/was punctured. Moreover, we spell tire in American English and tyre in British English.

  • Referring to flat tyres is very common in British English. Nov 30, 2014 at 18:37

Sentences #1, #2, and #3 all sound natural to my (bicycle-riding American) ear. (Americans use "tire", not "tyre".) I prefer "I had a flat" or "I had a flat tire" instead of "I got a flat tire".


First, note that a flat tyre ("tire" in US English) and a puncture are not necessarily the same thing. A flat tyre means that the air has gone out of it; a puncture is a hole in the tyre, typically caused by running over a sharp object. Thus, a puncture will cause a flat tyre but flat tyres can have other causes, such as a faulty valve.

  1. My bike has had two punctures in the last three weeks.
  2. I got a flat tyre.
  3. My bike got a flat tyre.
  4. My bike got punctured or The tyre of my bike got punctured (Which one is correct?)

1–3 are fine. "My bike got punctured" doesn't feel quite right: the most natural interpretation would be that something had punched a hole in the frame of your bike, though that seems sufficiently unlikely that the person you were talking to would probably understand that it was the tyre. I'd say "My bike got a puncture" instead. "The tyre of my bike got punctured" is fine but a bit long-winded.

You could also say "I got a puncture."


American/Canadian English

The American/Canadian spelling would be tire.

An American/Canadian English speaker would probably never choose to use puncture for these situations, but should be able to guess its meaning. The common phrase would be got a flat tire, sometimes just got a flat. Alternate phrases might be blew a tire, burst a tire, or popped a tire, particularly if it was a catastrophic event rather than a slow leak.

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