On the Road: A Look at Verbs of Transport Part 2- Explaining the Differences

country countryside daylight field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now that you had a chance to try out the Photographic Guessing Quiz, here are some of the explanations that justify the difference among the verbs that are what they are regarding traveling. I left the most obvious out, which is anything to do with feet- walking, running, jogging. However, the following words may be difficult to distinguish, therefore we must explain it further with some audio and visual :




As you see in the video above, ride is solely used for the purpose of being on top of something that moves. Whenever you are straddling an object, like a bike, motorcycle, jetski, broom or in this case golf club, and are going somewhere, ride is definitely used here.

Another way of looking at the meaning of ride is this song by Queen entitled Bike Race:

To sum up, if you are here,

person riding bicycle
Photo by SAurabh Narwade on Pexels.com


You are riding her. 😉   However, you can also ride this……

ride a train

…if you are the passenger of a car, amusement park ride (like roller coaster, Ferris Wheel, Merry-Go-Round, etc.) or this train.

But when you have this,

black lamborghini vehicle steering wheel
Photo by Charles Kettor on Pexels.com

then you can (and must) use the word drive.


Basically drive is used when you have a steering wheel and a dashboard with all the controls needed to tell the car, truck or anything with at least four wheels what to do. Just like in this film clip below:

And while some cars can jump cliffs and other obstacles like KITT, in all reality, they cannot fly!

jet cloud landing aircraft
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Anything with wings and a cockpit, but have engines with a potential of going into “warp speed” into the skies and beyond require the use of the word fly.

This also applies for hot-air balloons or anything that requires the use of hot air, fuel and fire that lifts anything in the air. Even space ships in its science fiction form can fly as well. Yet while in space, the ship’s captain needs to navigate and steer the ship, just like this:

close up photogrpahy ship captains control
Photo by Nick Demou on Pexels.com

Steer/ Navigate:

Sometimes when you operate small motorboat and you are not straddling anything, we would drive a boat for riding a boat applies when you are a passenger and not the boat Operator. However, for larger ships, such as freighters, ferries and cruise ships, we would use the words steer and navigate, normally. Navigate is the process of finding your way through all sorts of obstacles just to get to your destination.  One can get away with using it for airplanes in this case, or when using the Navi (GPS device) in your car.

Steering means using a nautical wheel, like in this picture above. Similar to this word is helm, but captains don’t do the real steering- helmsmen do the job. The captain is just the skipper.

white ship during golden hour
Photo by GEORGE DESIPRIS on Pexels.com

Yet when we have oars or paddles, we would normally not use steer or navigate…….

paddle - Kopie

Paddle vs Row:

There is a difference between the words Paddle and Row. Both are in reference to all smaller forms of boating. To paddle implies using only boat paddle and paddling the water alternately, similar to the photo of the stand paddler above. If you are going by kayak, canoe, raftboat, gondola, (stand-up) paddleboat or anything that requires only one paddle, you would use the verb paddle. It can also be used in reference to the paddle boat itself, where the front paddle is operated by peddling.

person wearing blue denim jacket riding red canoe boat
Photo by Andy Vu on Pexels.com

However, if you use a pair of oars, we would use the verb row, like rowing the boat. This applies for rowboat and larger ships, like Viking ships, where paddles are used on both sides of the boat and they push the boat floating on water forward, simultaneously.

grayscale picture of two people go on fishing
Photo by Jayant Kulkarni on Pexels.com

Yet should there any sails on the boat, and you decide to use them, then ist neither row nor paddle.


Sail is pretty obvious. When your boat has sails and the wind allows to to blow away, then you would use the word sail. It applies for all boats, yachts and ships that have this contraption……

And now that you have an idea of how to distinguish among the verbs of  Transport, enjoy this closure, imagining you are on a sailboat, relaxing and traveling to unknown places, listening to Christopher Cross and Chris Rea, while practicing some English words dealing with travel. Another part is coming soon. 🙂


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