‘Get off’ vs. ‘get out of’ vs. ‘take off’ vs. ‘exit’ a bus in English

by Jakub Marian

Tip: See my list of the Most Common Mistakes in English. It will teach you how to avoid mis­takes with com­mas, pre­pos­i­tions, ir­reg­u­lar verbs, and much more (PDF Version).

One of the most common activities and still causing trouble; do we get off, out of, take off, or exit buses, trains, planes, and cars? The answer is: It depends on the vehicle. First of all, the verb “exit” can be used with any conceivable vehicle or building, but it sounds very formal. Consider the following two situations:

Terminal station. Please exit the train.
(a formal announcement used in the Prague metro)

“Exit” was appropriate here, as the whole expression was supposed to be understood as a formal command. On the other hand, it is too formal for a normal conversation:

I must exit the bus at the next stop.
(too formal for a normal conversation)

In normal speech, the preferred expression for a bus, train, plane, and other public transport vehicles would be to “get off”. Although you can say that you “take a bus” when you “get on the bus” (not “in”), you can’t say that you “take off the bus” when you “get off”:

I must get off (the bus) at the next stop. (correct)
I must take off (the bus) at the next stop. (wrong)

The difference between “get off” and “get out of” is a little bit more delicate. We get off public transport, but we get out of a (personal) car, and never the other way round:

Get off the bus at the next stop. (correct)
Get out of the car after you arrive. (correct)
Get out of the bus at the next stop. (wrong)
Get off the car after you arrive. (wrong)

For the sake of completeness, we should mention that “get out of the bus” could be used in case of emergency as a command. A driver noticing the bus is on fire could shout, “Everybody get out of the bus!” Nevertheless, this is hopefully not something you will ever need to say.

This article was based on my guide to the most common mistakes in English, which explains many similar topics. Why don’t you check it out?

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