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I read a sentence "Where can I get a number 20 bus?" on a website. Could you please tell me what the difference is between "get a bus" and "take a bus"..

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3 Answers 3

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(This is all AmE)

What you need to know is:

  • Where can I catch that bus?

  • How much do I pay the driver when I get on the bus?

and

  • If I take that bus, will it get [me] to {destination} by {time}?

You would rarely hear someone say "Where can I get a bus?" unless they were thinking of buying one; nor would you hear "Where can I take a bus?" (although you will hear "Can I take a bus to {destination}?").

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    +1 But I think the situation is the OP knows the bus number, so maybe the OP wants something more like "Where is the nearest bus stop that bus 20 passes?" or "Where can I wait for bus 20?". I'm not sure if these are the most natural phrasings (I'm a non-native speaker), but I think they are to the point and understandable. Apr 13, 2015 at 9:16
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    I looked around the web, and now think the OP's example will be more idiomatic with the, i.e. Where can I get the number 20 bus? Apr 13, 2015 at 9:29
  • To me, "Where can I take a bus?" could be asking about the destination of the bus rather than the point where I get onto it. ("You could take a bus to the park, or the mall, or...") Apr 13, 2015 at 12:08
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    Maybe this is a US/UK difference, but to me there's nothing remotely unusual about Where can I get a bus to London?, which is given there as a typical example usage in that "elementary" guide to English aimed at non-native speakers. Apr 13, 2015 at 16:03
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Get a bus vs take a bus

You can use either get a bus or take a bus, without any difference in meaning. See Oxford Learners (American or British). However, the use of "take" is more common than that of "get". The verb "catch" is also common here. Moreover, when you go onto a bus, train, aircraft, you usually use get on. For example, He got on the wrong bus.

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    "He got on the wrong bus." Apr 13, 2015 at 12:09
  • This NGram suggests take/get were about equally likely until the 60s, since which time AmE usage has shifted towards take much more than BrE. Apr 13, 2015 at 16:09
  • I think "get" also implies the search for a bus, as in determining which one to take and where to find it while "take" only means to use it.
    – rovyko
    Jun 2, 2015 at 13:14
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The question, "Where can I get a bus?", suggests that the speaker wants to know where he can find a particular bus.

But, when the speaker says, "take a bus", it suggests that the speaker wants to get on a bus, or he wants to board a bus.

Eg - I want to take a bus to the library.

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