Ride a roller coaster vs ride on a roller coaster?


New Member
I've been working at a learning center. One day, I helped a kid there with his diary (like a piece of short writing assignments). He said he'd like to write about him spending a day with his family celebrating his birthday. Here's how it went: "In the afternoon, we went to Ocean Park. We saw sea animals and rode a roller coaster." where I thought it all makes sense to me so I didn't correct the kid. My boss then was insinuating that I taught him wrongly when she corrected me that it should be "We saw the sea animals and rode on a roller coaster." with an article "the" and preposition "on". Not liking the way she blames me as if I should be executed for a thousand times for making mistakes, I googled and asked around a lot wishing I could get some answers to ease my confusions. It turns out that more confusions pop up.

After googling, I found not much about the sea-animals thing but I found a piece of articles about ( how to overcome the fear riding rollercoasters ) where the sentence goes with no "on " in it. Two friends of mine told me that with-on roller coasters is what they've learnt ever since they're little while a friend who used to study in Canada told me that without-on roller coasters makes fully sense to him.


1) I ride a roller coaster.
2) I ride on a roller coaster.
3) I see sea animals.
4) I see the sea animals.

Which one or ones of the above do you think is(are) correct or make more sense to you? Or you'd prefer:

#1 I go on a (roller coaster) ride.
#2 I go see sea animals.
When it comes to a diary...
#3 I went to see sea animals.

Is the article "the" specifically referring to THE sea animals in the park? And with the preposition "on", does the sentence specify that "we" are not the ones who control or operate the ride? This is my conclusion afterwards.

Thanks a lot.
Last edited:
  • Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    These are separate questions, Kevenwai.

    Welcome to the forum and I'm sure you'll find you get better, and quicker, answers if you keep the rule about confining yourself to one question per thread.

    I'll look at the first one:

    I don't ride roller coasters much, but in my view one can say either ride a roller coaster, or ride on a roller coaster.

    The ngrams seem to agree with me. We say both.
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