catch the bus or catch a bus

Alex_108

Senior Member
Ukrainian
Hello.
Could you please explain to me the difference between "catch the bus" and "catch a bus"?

Many students catch the bus to school, which is usually the easiest way of getting there.

Is it because they catch the same bus every day (there's only one bus for picking up children)?
 
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    But it is not the same bus for everyone. It's not one specific bus. It's the regular bus for that person.

    "Most of the school children in the city ride the bus to school."

    This is normal. There might be 20 different buses picking up children from 20 different neighborhoods, but it's "the bus" for every single one. They are not walking or riding in cars, they are riding "the" school bus to school. It's the one that comes to pick them up.
     

    Alex_108

    Senior Member
    Ukrainian
    But it is not the same bus for everyone. It's not one specific bus. It's the regular bus for that person.

    "Most of the school children in the city ride the bus to school."

    This is normal. There might be 20 different buses picking up children from 20 different neighborhoods, but it's "the bus" for every single one. They are not walking or riding in cars, they are riding "the" school bus to school. It's the one that comes to pick them up.
    Wow! I've never heard about it.

    If I can get to school by three buses (#516, #707, #105), which phrase should be used here?

    I have a feeling that "catch a bus" is the correct answer (as we have a group of objects here).
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    The way school buses work in the U.S. is they only carry schoolchildren, and one bus is assigned to one neighborhood. There is never another bus.

    In my case, the bus had a number, 40, and I had a bus pass with the number 40 on it. I could only get on the bus with the number 40. That's the one that was assigned to my neighborhood. Buses with other numbers went to other neighborhoods.
     

    jucami

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The bus is normal in a reference to a specific bus.
    But it is not the same bus for everyone. It's not one specific bus. It's the regular bus for that person.
    Even if we were speaking more generally, I think we could still talk about the bus:

    A: I don't have a car.
    B: Really? How do you get around the city?
    A: Sometimes I bike, and if it's raining I take the bus.

    This refers to buses in general - it doesn't necessarily meaning that A always takes the same bus.
     
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