Expression "How far did we drive?"


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A tour bus stopped and a lot of passengers started getting off the bus. And one of them said to the others,

"I fell asleep. How far did we drive?"

I think that sounds a little weird becuase it's not them who have driven the bus.

I mean, the bus driver would be able to say "How far did I drive?"

and the passengers would be able to say "How far did we come?"

But the passenger said "How far did we drive?" Does that sound natural and fine to you?

Bunch Son

Posted 2014-04-24T09:02:57.243

Reputation: 721

3Yes, it sounds perfectly fine. Notwithstanding the fact that only one person is driving, the verb can be used for the passengers as well. Definitions are not always black and white in that sense. – oerkelens – 2014-04-24T09:17:15.043



Fair question, but check out Macmillan. You are mistakenly assuming that the meaning of drive is confined to Definition 2:

drive (v.) to control and guide the movement of a vehicle ⇒ "to drive a car"

while ignoring the equally valid used mentioned in Definition 10:

drive (v.) to transport or be transported in a driven vehicle

Similarly, if you examine CDO's definition carefully, you can see it allows for "How far did we drive?"

drive (v.) to move or travel on land in a motor vehicle, especially as the person controlling the vehicle's movement: They are driving to Scotland on Tuesday.

That example sentence is valid, and it does NOT imply that everyone in the car will have a turn at the steering wheel. Moreover, the words "especially as" in that definition are crucial; they can be interpreted as "not necessarily limited to."


Posted 2014-04-24T09:02:57.243

Reputation: 108 123

1Also: note that "we" here includes the driver. The driver is driving on behalf of the entire bus. We can say that the entire bus is "driving" even though only one person there is doing the actual work. On the other hand, it would sound odd for someone on the bus to call a friend on the phone and say "I've driven 50 miles." – Peeja – 2014-04-24T14:21:01.207


True, how far did we come may look logically okay, it's not a good option. The expression is used to talk about the situation in present compared to past.

For instance,

In-Class Discussion Questions Films and Learning: How Far Did We Come, 1951-2008? Thinking about Early Film Studies. Hoban & van Ormer (1951)

Now about we driving a bus. Well, at times, we use we that refers to all as one entity. Even though someone is not actively participating in doing that.

Check out this example (sarcastic though) -

It's hard to get business these days and top of that, we don't address our customer's complaint properly.
Leave it, it's not gonna improve. That's how we practice it, don't we?

Here, though the speaker is keen to serve the customer, we represents people in general, as one entity.

Likewise, when a passenger asks, they actually mean how far the bus has come i.e. how far did they travel.

Maulik V

Posted 2014-04-24T09:02:57.243

Reputation: 66 188


"How far did we come" doesn't sound natural at all; a bus seems like an awkward setting to use come that way. If someone really had a hangup about using the word drive, I think, "How far did we travel" would be a much better formal alternative, or "How far did we go" in more informal contexts. Moreover, I cannot agree that the O.P.'s assertion is true. As others have said in their comments and answers, "How far did we drive?" is just fine, and native speakers wouldn't question the use of drive in that context. See Collins #10.

– J.R. – 2014-04-24T10:00:05.450