Do You “Ride” or “Drive” A Car? Full Explanation (With Examples)

Some English speakers use “ride a car” instead of “drive a car”. This confusion is because both “ride” and “drive” mean to control a vehicle. However, the vehicle they apply to differ. This article will clear your doubt about the correct phrase between “ride a car” and “drive a car.”

Do You “Ride” Or “Drive” A Car?

We use “drive” for four-wheeled vehicles like cars, lorry and vans, while we use “ride” for two-wheeled transport like bicycles, horses and motorcycles. So, you don’t ride a car; you drive a car. It is grammatically wrong to say “ride a car”.

ride a car or drive a car

Basically, “riding” includes sitting on an object or animal and controlling it to take you to your destination. “Driving” involves sitting inside a car and controlling it to your destination.

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What Does It Mean To “Ride” A Car?

To “ride a car” is incorrect. It does not have any meaning. Do not say “ride a car” if you are moving it. You can only ride in a car if the driver drives you to your destination.

“Ride” instead of “drive” is typical among English as Second Language speakers. If you are among them, it is high time you stopped using “ride” for a car.

We will use “ride a car” in the following sentences for you to understand better.

  1. Incorrect: Stone’s father bought him a car so that he could ride a car to school every day.
  2. Incorrect: He rode (“rode” is the past tense of “ride”) his car to Atlanta within 30 minutes
  3. Incorrect: He had ridden (“ridden” is the past participle of “ride) 5 cars before he bought this one from Jane
  4. Incorrect: Stephen has been riding this car since 2017.
  5. Incorrect: He has always wanted to ride a car right from his undergraduate days.

What Does It Mean To “Drive” A Car?

The phrase “to drive a car” means you sit inside a car and control its movement, speed, and direction. In other words, it means you operate the car to move from one place to another.

To drive means you are the one operating the car to move at a specified speed. If you are a passenger in the car, do not use “drive a car.”

These are examples of how you can use “drive a car” in your sentences

  1. I will learn how to drive a car tomorrow
  2. I will drive to Nevada on Saturday to see a friend of mine
  3. My dad drove me to see a movie at the cinema.
  4. The cops caught him driving under the influence of alcohol.
  5. Jack is a good driver. He has driven a Range Rover before without any issues.

Are “Ride A Car” And “Drive A Car” Interchangeable?

“Ride a car” is an incorrect phrase. You should not use it to replace “drive a car,” which is a correct phrase in a sentence. Thus, we cannot interchange “ride a car” and “drive a car.”

Is “Ride A Car” Or “Drive A Car” Used The Most?

According to Google Ngram Viewer, English speakers do not use “ride a car” because it is incorrect. They use “drive a car” the most. The blue line represents “ride a car,” while the red line depicts the usage of “drive a car.”

ride a car or drive a car english usage

Is it “Ride A Car” or “Ride in A Car”

You don’t ride a car. If the driver decides to take you to your destination, you “ride in a car.” “Ride in a car” depicts that you are not the one controlling the car but a passenger in the car.

The phrase “ride in a car” means you are a passenger in the car and not the driver. For example:

  1. I rode to work in Jack’s car yesterday.
  2. She rides in Stone’s car to the Mall every Saturday to buy candy and chocolate.

According to this graph from Google Ngram Viewer, English speakers use “ride in a car” more than “ride a car.” In the chart, the red line shows the usage of “ride in a car,” while the blue line depicts “ride a car.”

ride a car or ride in a car english usage

The correct verb to use if you move the car from one location to another is “drive.” However, if you are a passenger in the car, you can use “ride in a car.” “Ride a car” is grammatically wrong.

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