to drive truck / to drive cab

Discussion in 'English Only' started by GrandBlank, Sep 6, 2006.

  1. GrandBlank Member

    Hi, I'm a native speaker of (Am.) English, with a question of no great import. :)

    I'm wondering if anyone has heard of these expressions used:

    • I've been driving truck for ten years. (as opposed to driving a truck)
    • I used to drive cab. (vs. to drive a cab)
    And I will be very impressed if a truckdriver/cabbie answers this one! ;)
  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Greetings GrandBlank,
    This AE native has never heard those particular expressions. I have driven a truck, and driven trucks, but never driven truck.
  3. Moogey Senior Member

    New Jersey, USA
    USA English
    Hi GrandBlank,

    I am a native as well and I've never heard either of these. It sounds like it would be produced by a non-native ;)

  4. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    We do have many parallel usages: I've been running track for many years, for example.
  5. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I've worked off and on in the freight industry for many years, and I can confirm that "drive truck" is a common way for a trucker to describe his job, at least here in California. If you ask a trucker, "What do you do for a living?", the most common answer will be, "I drive truck", not "I'm a truck driver."

    Sorry, I can't say anything about cabs. I honestly don't know.
  6. GrandBlank Member

    Thanks everybody! --especially JamesM! I've heard it spoken (just once in my life that I can remember), but I thought I wasn't hearing it right. I did suppose that it would be industry jargon(?). And, indeed, I'm very impressed to hear from the truckdrivers --- all regulars at!
  7. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Just to clarify.. I'm not a truck driver myself; I'm a computer consultant. Among other applications, I've developed systems for ocean and air freight forwarding, import/export, and customhouse brokerage. In the course of developing these systems I've had the opportunity to meet many truck drivers.

    Often the phrase is heard with the name of the company afterwards, "I drive truck for FedEx", or "I drive truck for the company" if it's an in-house trucker.
  8. bkdamon New Member

    English - USA
    I "drove truck" on the eastern seaboard from '92 - '02, but I can honestly say I've ever heard it expressed that way. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if it was used that way considering some of the other things I've heard on the CB! :D
  9. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I drove a cab for four years, and have never heard the expression without the "a."

    "How long've you drove cab for this chickenshit outfit" doesn't hurt my ears that bad, but-- naah!

    The expressions involving trucks sound better, but I can't say I've heard them. "I drove over-the-road for five years," yes, "and I drive long-haul now." And "they've got me driving short-run."

    Come to think of it, I've heard "I drove gypsy for a while," and that has to do with cabbing.
  10. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Google search on "I drive truck for" doesn't come up with many examples, but they're there. Maybe it is an industry "in" term.
  11. cirrus

    cirrus Senior Member

    UK English
    I can't say I've ever come across this usage this side of the pond.
  12. GTWilliams New Member

    It's true! We live in NW Washington. My wife and I moved only 10 miles and noticed this is very popular where it is not just down the road. Also are "I drive bus" and even "I ride horse"

    What happened to the pronouns?

    For fun Google in quotes "I drive bus" you will see several posts where this is how people describe their job.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2009
  13. Wordnik New Member

    English - South Carolina Low Country, US
    This is a very familiar expression to me that I've heard my whole life. As a matter of fact, I've got a cousin who "drives truck". I get the impression the article gets dropped because you're talking about the work activity in general and not a particular vehicle or set of vehicles. This sounds very blue-collar to my ear. I also disagree that this is an affectation due to contact with other languages or was produced by a non-native speaker, since it's popular in one of the English-speaking regions that has had the least contact with non-English speakers, the Southeastern US.

    Check this out from an article in Canada's The Globe and Mail: "Amy Winehouse's dad drives cab in London, where you can't get a cabbie's licence till you prove you've got the Knowledge -- a thorough mental map of the city's medieval streets." Notice the earthy, blue-collar style of the writer (i.e. using "dad" instead of "father").

    Check out this parallel:

    What do you do for work?

    "I drive school bus for the High School"

    What do you do on the weekend?

    "I watch TV" ("I watch a TV" or "I watch TVs"?)
  14. GTWilliams New Member

    I asked my uncle to drove an oil truck for many year. He said drivers also will say "I drive oil." or "I drive freight." So it was not a stretch to "I drive bus."
  15. Parla Senior Member

    New York City
    English - US
    I've never heard anything like that here in the Northeast US.

    And I know someone who drives a school bus in southern California. He doesn't "drive bus"; he drives a bus.
  16. JustKate

    JustKate Moderate Mod

    I've heard people say "drives truck." "Drives a truck" is more common, but I've heard the other, too, and I think Wordnik's explanation sounds pretty reasonable.
  17. Documental New Member

    English - Canada
    Definitely have heard both. I'm in Toronto, Canada and don't know any cab or truck drivers personally but have seen it in online discussions and heard it in person once or twice. My impression (and nothing more) is that it's more common in rural folks on working class types. The users I've heard appear to be Caucasian, native English speakers so no connection to a foreign language I can see.
  18. TheRealMcCoy

    TheRealMcCoy Senior Member


    In my view, not only was he a non-native, but he also got there a week ago.
  19. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I guess it's time for a few examples. These are from websites for truck drivers.

    Read more:
    And here are a few from truck drivers and their families on other sites:
    It is definitely used within the industry. You can consider it jargon, but it does leak out into the language of those who are around long-haul truckers.

    Please don't assume that something doesn't exist just because you personally haven't heard it before.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  20. TheRealMcCoy

    TheRealMcCoy Senior Member


    Yes, I guess you're right. I was thinking on David Bradford's Drive-by Shootings' story on a non-native cabbie.
  21. TheRealMcCoy

    TheRealMcCoy Senior Member

    No, I don't. On the contrary, few quotations are so dear to me as Shakespeare's line:'There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.' - Hamlet (1.5.167-8).
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
  22. Luis Robinson New Member

    English - US
    They are used by truckers or cab drivers but not by anyone else.
  23. Documental New Member

    English - Canada
    I disagree. Recently I heard someone say "my brother drives cab." So that would be a case where someone used it who is not a cab driver. He is related to one and may have picked it up that way. But like with anything in language things can spread quite easily outside the niches where they are first used.

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