One point English Lesson: Drive Vs. Go By Car Vs. By My Car

Michael Uncategorized Leave a Comment

I have this sort of conversation a lot:

  • Michael: Lee, how was your weekend? Did you do anything interesting?
  • Lee: Yeah, I went to Boston by my car

There are a few problems with Lee’s reply. Can you find them?

First of all, let’s look at the phrase “by my car.” I have known Lee for a long time, and I know he has a car. In such a situation, he doesn’t need to use my. He only needs to say by car – this would be more natural.

The second problem is the use of by car. I asked Lee about his weekend, so the topic of the conversation is what he did, not how he did it. So, a better reply by Lee would have been:

  • Michael: Lee, how was your weekend? Did you do anything interesting?
  • Lee: Yeah, I went to Boston.

By saying I went to Boston Lee is telling me what he did, and that is what I asked!

However, if Lee wants to mention how he went to Boston, he could do this:

  • Michael: Lee, how was your weekend? Did you do anything interesting?
  • Lee: Yeah, I drove to Boston.

Let’s look at the difference between these two sentences:

  1. I went to Boston by car.
  2. I drove to Boston.

Sentence #1 emphasizes how I went to Boston. We only use expressions like this (by car, by train, etc) when we need to emphasize how we travel. Otherwise, we would say something like this:

  • I drove to the park this morning. Not, I went to the park by car.
  • They flew to Amsterdam yesterday. Not, They went to Amsterdam by plane.

Sentence #2 is more natural in English conversation. Here are some more examples:

  • I drive to school every morning.
  • Joe takes the bus to work, but his wife takes a train.
  • Jim is going to fly to California next week on business.

How do you get to work or school? Do you drive? Do you take a bus or a subway?

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