I think both can be used but since I am not a native speaker, I would like to get some help.

When you talk about a certain line of bus ( e.g. the bus number 227 that goes from town A to town B), can I say

take a bus


When you talk about the public transportation in general in the form of buses without a specific line or number of bus, can I use

take the bus


Similarly, what would be the difference between take a subway and take the subway ?

  • 2
    This very similar question may be helpful. Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 0:43
  • If there is a difference, 'take the bus' means 'my usual bus' - 'I take the bus (that is, a specific bus) to work every morning', and 'take a bus means 'any bus' - 'To get from here to Central Station, take a bus (that is, any bus) along George St'. (But maybe there are several buses past my house, or I leave home at different times, in which case I could also say 'I take a bus to work every morning'.)
    – Sydney
    Commented Jun 10, 2015 at 2:30

2 Answers 2


Both these mean the same thing: I take a bus from work to home and I take the bus from work to home. The first very slightly emphasises the trip from work to home while the second points to the mode of travel as being the important part of the sentence. Both though could be used without any sort of issue or hidden meaning. As to a bus line, I would say I take bus number 227 to get to work or just colloquial I take the 227. In these cases, the word the isn't quite used the same as you have in your example.

  • Not sure why the downvote here. It was accepted and there are no comments saying what is wrong. Commented Jun 11, 2015 at 17:50

"Take a bus" and "take the bus" are essentially interchangeable; you can use either, regardless of whether you mean a specific bus or bus line. You can even "take a 227". However, while you can take a train or the train, you would take the subway but never a subway, because the subway isn't the vehicle, it's the system. You might take a subway train, but that is a train that is a part of the subway. (I imagine that if one were in a city where there were multiple different subways that competed, you might take a subway, if you were not specifying which subway company you were going to ride with.)

Interestingly, you would take a plane but usually not the plane, if you aren't specifying which plane or plane route.

(The only example I can think of where you would be required to use one or the other are non-idiomatic, such as if you were using the word "take" to mean "steal", and were specifying which vehicle.)

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