3
  1. Police ride in cars, boats, on horses, bikes, or walk.
  2. Police ride cars, boats, horses, bikes, or walk.
  3. Police ride in cars, boats, horses, bikes, or walk.

Which ones are correct?

Also, is it always required to use "in" or "on" when the verb "to ride" is used, or is it completely possible without prepositions, albeit with a slightly different meaning?

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    #2 sounds best of your examples. When you include a preposition for the first, but not with the rest, the preposition applies to everything else. That is not bad, but you would need to adjust for it: "Police ride in cars and boats, on horse and bikes, and occasionally go by foot." the last part where I replace walk, I am keeping the whole sentence feeling balanced by giving it a preposition as well, but it isn't needed. "or walk" would also be fine. – Michael Dorgan Jun 16 '15 at 0:17
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    @MichaelDorgan : You can write your comment as an answer. Its a good explanation. – serenesat Jun 16 '15 at 6:49
1

You can ride in a car (most cars are enclosed vehicles with a door), but not a horse or bike. You ride on those. (IMHO you can use either on or in with a boat)

So #1 and #3 are wrong, though if you said this in spoken speech it's unlikely anyone would catch the mistake.

The clearest/right way to do what you're trying to do is this:

Police ride in cars, on boats, on horses, on bikes, or they walk.

The they before walk is not strictly needed but it helps to break up the "list pattern" established before and signal that you are introducing a new component of the sentence.

Ride without a preposition means enter a vehicle expecting that the vehicle will give you a ride.

I rode the trolley to the city's center

This means you got on the trolley, and took advantage of it's ride to the city center to take you there.

But I interpret #2 to mean use as a vehicle in a general sense, and I suspect most others would too.

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2

Your #2 sounds best of your examples. When you include a preposition for the first, but not with the rest, the preposition applies to everything else. That is not bad, but you would need to adjust for it: "Police ride in cars and boats, on horse and bikes, and occasionally go by foot."

the last part where I replace walk, I am keeping the whole sentence feeling balanced by giving it a preposition as well, but it isn't needed. "or walk" would also be fine.

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