[Vocabulary] Get on vs get in

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TitoBr

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Hello!

According to Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary Get on is a phrasal verb used to embark a vehicle, such as a bus. But for cars we do not use it, we use Get in instead, which means enter.

The thing is: is there an explanation for not using Get on or Get in for all vehicles?

Regards,
Tito
 

Offroad

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I have never heard of any rules for using prepositions like 'in' or 'on'. We learn/know by experience and use. All I can say is that most often 'on' is used for large vehicles while 'in' is not.
Compare:

Get in the car.
Get on the bus.
Get on the plane.

It is worth nothing that prepositions usage may vary from country to country.

Offroad
 

TitoBr

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Hey, Offroad!

Thank you for your post. I think there's something else beyond these two prepositions. There must be something related to collocations or some other complex phrasal verb rule. I believe that it is just one of those intrincacies of the language: you simply do not explain it, this is how millions of people are used to using it.
 

BobK

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I have never heard of any rules for using prepositions like 'in' or 'on'. We learn/know by experience and use. All I can say is that most often 'on' is used for large vehicles while 'in' is not.
Compare:

Get in the car.
Get on the bus.
Get on the plane.

It is worth nothing that prepositions usage may vary from country to country.

Offroad

:up: That's it. Think about whether you are standing up when you get in/on. When you board an airliner you get on, before you strap yourself into a glider's cockpit you get in.
 

TitoBr

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All these vehicles have interiors, and the preposition On means above something, while In is inside of something. And then we use On for all these ways of transportation but In for a car? Hmmm, there must have something else to help learners to understand the difference between these 2 phrasal verbs.

My objective with this thread is to shape a reasonable and yet simple explanation for this difference in usage. Comments as the ones posted are welcome. If you have another point of view on the subject, please, do share!

See ya!
Tito
 

Offroad

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I don't think they are phrasal verbs in this particular case, plus, as we all discussed earlier, the bridge that leads us to agreement is accepting the way prepositions are used. I guarantee you will learn much more by asking 'how' instead of 'why'.

Offroad
 

philo2009

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Actually, they do satisfy a major criterion for classification as phrasal verbs, since removal of the preposition and its object would render them ungrammatical. Thus e.g.

Please get in the car!

cannot be reduced to

*Please get!

Compare this with a simple, non-phrasal verb + preposition sequence such as 'go into' in

Please go into the office!

which can be reduced to

Please go!

without loss of grammatical acceptability.

However, an important distinction to note here is that between prepositional phrasal verbs (such as 'get in' in get in the car) and adverbial phrasal verbs (e.g. the same combination of words in 'get in the washing before it rains').
 

5jj

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Actually, they do satisfy a major criterion for classification as phrasal verbs, since removal of the preposition and its object would render them ungrammatical. Thus e.g.

Please get in the car! cannot be reduced to *Please get!

Compare this with a simple, non-phrasal verb, + preposition sequence such as 'go into' in

Please go into the office! which can be reduced to Please go!

without loss of grammatical acceptability.
Not really.

Please get in the car can be reduced to Please get in but not, as you say, to *Please get.
Please go into the office can be reduced to Please go in, but not to Please go, which means something different.
 
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5jj

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Actually, they do satisfy a major criterion for classification as phrasal verbs, since removal of the preposition and its object would render them ungrammatical.
I did not know that there were any universally accepted major criteria for classification as phrasal verbs.
 

Offroad

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I did not know that there were any universally accepted major criteria for classification as phrasal verbs.

Me neither!
 
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