English as a Second Language/Different


Dear Shannon,

(1) In your last reply, you said that 'to travel in a bus' is a little formal than 'to travel by bus'. However, would you please tell me when we can say 'in a bus' and when we can say 'on a bus' and what the difference is. Do both of them refer to the place 'inside the bus'?

(2) Why is the English language inconsistent? They say 'the River Thames' ('river' comes before the name)whereas they say 'the Nile River' ('river' comes after the name), for example.

(3) "The hottest temperature was recorded in El Azizia in Libya in 1922". To me as a non-native speaker of English, it is strange to say 'the hottest temperature'. It is more logical to me to say 'the highest temperature'. How can a temperature be 'hot'?

Thanks for your continuous support and guidelines.

Kind regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

1. They do.  Yet in everyday speech, when dealing with matters of mass transportation, we would say "on": on the bus, on the plane, on the subway, on the boat.  For smaller, personal transportation that you get inside of, we use "in": in the car, in the taxi.  The exception are things we can't fit "inside": on a bicycle, on a motorcycle, on a horse.

2. It just is.  The same is true for lakes.  Although the usual preference is (the) NAME Lake/River, occasionally you will find (the) River/Lake NAME.  The best course of action is the memorize those rare instances where the word river/lake comes first.

3. Highest temperature works fine.  Since temperature by its very nature refers to how hot or cold something is, the colloquial usage of hottest/coldest with temperature is natural for native speakers.  In other words, if the temperatures is the highest on record, it must also be the hottest day (but what exactly makes the day or weather hot?  The temperature...therefore the "hottest temperature.")

English as a Second Language

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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