take/ catch/ get a bus?

  • lablady

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    To me, if I "take a bus" or "catch a bus" I mean basically the same thing- that I will be riding a bus.

    I can see the possibility of "get a bus" in certain contexts- for example, let's say that I have been given the task of arranging transportation for a large group of people. If I "get a bus" that means that I will be acquiring one for their use and may or may not be riding it myself.
     
    Take a bus is more American, while catch a bus is more English.

    As an American who has been catching buses for decades, I can assure you that this statement is without any foundation whatsoever.

    If I were to make a distinction, to "catch" a bus means to be at the location where the bus is at the time the bus is boarding passengers, while to "take" a bus means to use that bus at a mode of transportation. Thus, one might say "I always take the bus to work" (and not "catch"), but one would also say "I ran down the street and just barely caught the bus this morning"; to use "take" in the second example would make no sense.
     
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    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Take a bus is more American, while catch a bus is more English.

    Welcome to the forums, fuertefrank.

    The social niceties having been dealt with, my reply to the quoted statement is that it
    is bunk. :) Americans use both verbs with frequency. They may be synonymous or distinct, according to context.

    To take a bus suggests a decision about a mode of transport. To catch a bus is to put that decision into effect.

    How do you plan to go to Baltimore?

    I will either drive or take a bus.


    Where are you going?

    I have to catch a bus. The last one leaves in ten minutes.
    [It would not be idiomatic to use take in this context in AE.]
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Ah but, ah but, ah but...

    Fuertefrank's post was a post of two halves - and I'm pretty sure he's right that in BrE "take" + bus is much less common than "catch" + bus. "Get a bus" (or "get the bus") also works well in BrE.

    Loob: My [...] car's broken down again. How on earth am I going to get to town?
    Loob's BrE-speaking friend: You'll have to catch a bus/You'll have to catch the bus/You'll have to get a bus/You'll have to get the bus.
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "Get a bus" (or "get the bus") also works well in BrE.

    Wow-- I learn something new about BE every day.

    The reason you can get a cab but not a bus is that buses run on unvarying routes, according to set schedules. You can take a bus if you're on your way to the bus stop, ready to hop on the first one available-- "catch a bus" is interchangeable, but it sometimes evokes hurrying or running late (as GreenWhiteBlue suggests).

    You can get a bus if you charter one-- so lablady's point is well taken.

    BTW, the dictionary example found by the original poster (welcome to the forums, tanp0p0) makes sense to me, and "can I get a bus from here to..." means "is there a route?" "...get the bus" wouldn't make sense, since there might not be a route to the desired destination.
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Ah but, ah butt, ah but....

    How would Madama Loobery reply if a friend were to ask what options she has to
    go to beautiful Coventry? Which verb would accompany "the bus"?
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Ah but, ah butt, ah but....

    How would Madama Loobery reply if a friend were to ask what options she has to
    go to beautiful Coventry? Which verb would accompany "the bus"?
    "Get", probably:D

    (and, of course, the bus might in that case be a coach...)

    I saw that butt bit:p
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    For what very little it may be worth, Uncle Giggle projects as follows:

    Results 1 - 20 of about 950,000 for "take a bus" site:.uk.
    Results 1 - 20 of about 185,000 for "catch a bus" site:.uk.

    Results 1 - 20 of about 990,000 for "get a bus" site:.uk.​



    Results 1 - 20 of about 1,510,000 for "take the bus" site:.uk.
    Results 1 - 20 of about 272,000 for "catch the bus" site:.uk.

    Results 1 - 20 of about 1,390,000 for "get the bus" site:.uk

    Yeahbut, but, bu bu bu but...
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    See also Take/Catch the underground to London

    I take a bus, get the bus, go by bus, and in certain particular circumstances when I have the chase the wretched thing, I catch the bus.
    That's interesting, panj. I do use "catch" for those occasions when I have to chase the wretched thing, but I don't use "catch" only for those occasions: it's also a neutral verb meaning "take" or "get". I wonder if this is another of those occasions where Irish English and AmE have strong similarities?

    EDIT: I've just read post 9 in the thread you linked - which indicates that at least some AmE speakers use catch = take.
    I'm thoroughly confused now:D
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I've just read post 9 in the thread you linked - which indicates that at least some AmE speakers use catch = take.
    I'm thoroughly confused now:D

    I think the AE/BE difference exists only with "get a bus." Over here catch is very widely used, and something of a catchall verb.

    "Did you catch Bruno Bettleheim on Leno last night?"
    "Is he still on the air?"

    "I think I'll catch a quick nap. Wake me before Bruno Bettleheim comes on shift, wouldya?"
    "Yeah, he'd rat you out in a heartbeat."

    "I'm not sure I catch your drift, Bettleheim."
    "That's Herr Doktor Professor Bettelheim to you, chump."

    "I just can't catch a break."
    "Try keeping the wind at your back."
     

    fuertefrank

    New Member
    English
    Well, when I was growing up in Manchester England, I always "caught" the bus to town. I never "took" it. It must be a Manchester thing.


    Remember the American song "TAKE THE 'A' TRAIN". Not Catch the 'A' train.
     
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    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    You will hear catch the bus in Manchester, New Hampshire as well.

    Thinking about AE usage a little more, I suspect, but cannot prove, that we are more apt to take a/the bus for long journeys, and catch a/the bus for local commutation.

    I'm taking a bus from Boston to Las Vegas. [We also
    take trains for longer trips.]

    I've got to catch the bus home now.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    You will hear catch the bus in Manchester, New Hampshire as well.

    Thinking about AE usage a little more, I suspect, but cannot prove, that we are more apt to take a/the bus for long journeys, and catch a/the bus for local commutation.

    I'm taking a bus from Boston to Las Vegas. [We also
    take trains for longer trips.]

    I've got to catch the bus home now.
    That's an interesting thought.

    Perhaps you catch a bus in situations where there are lots of them and you simply get onto the next one that comes along.
    But you take (or other verb) a bus when you have checked the timetable and arrange to be at the bus stop at the relevant time - because the next bus will not be along for hours.

    Or perhaps not.

    Like Loob, I am confused.
    Perhaps we should walk.
     

    lablady

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    Thinking about AE usage a little more, I suspect, but cannot prove, that we are more apt to take a/the bus for long journeys, and catch a/the bus for local commutation.
    I haven't really thought about AE usage before, but thinking about it now, I think this statement might sum up my general usage fairly well. While I do think I use catch and take interchangeably when it comes to busses, it's possible that for me, part of the difference may be whether or not I'm carrying luggage.

    I'll have to pay better attention to what I say the next time I have to catch/take a bus. :D
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Thinking about AE usage a little more, I suspect, but cannot prove, that we are more apt to take a/the bus for long journeys, and catch a/the bus for local commutation.

    Perhaps you catch a bus in situations where there are lots of them and you simply get onto the next one that comes along.
    But you take (or other verb) a bus when you have checked the timetable and arrange to be at the bus stop at the relevant time - because the next bus will not be along for hours.

    Two well-spotted nuances. They both apply to the way I use these terms, anyway. I also concur in the confusion, and the option to walk instead.
     

    Jocaste

    Senior Member
    Français
    You can "get" trains/buses and taxis in Ireland.

    "I have to get the train to college tomorrow" is one example I've often heard.
     
    Remember the American song "TAKE THE 'A' TRAIN". Not Catch the 'A' train.

    But that is because the song is talking about the train as a mode of transportation. How does one get to Harlem? One takes the A train, as opposed to taking any other train. On the other hand, I would be very likely to say that "when changing trains at 14th Street we were lucky and caught the A, which was just pulling in, but John, who stopped at the newsstand to buy a paper, missed the A, and ended up taking the C local instead."
     
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