a question

Today a student asked me:

Why do we say, “I’m on the train” & “I’m in the car” and not “I’m on the car”?

I said:

“Good question. I don’t know.”

Is there an answer? I am of the generation that was not formally taught grammar.

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3 Responses to “a question”

  1. Andrew Says:

    Well, we say that we’re on a boat or a bus as well, so maybe “on” is what you say when vehicles are big enough to have multiple rooms, cars, etc. After all, you’d say that you were “in the dining car,” and not on it.

    . . . or maybe there’s no good reason for it at all.

  2. Andrew Says:

    The other thing is, you aren’t necessarily in a boat, train, or bus just because you’re travelling on one: You could be on an open deck.

    I guess you could be on a car if you were silly enough to travel on the roof.

  3. missmellifluous Says:

    Ah! It’s all so clear now.

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