I taught him (how) to drive



Which one of these two is grammatically correct?

1. I taught him how to drive.
2. I taught him to drive.

If both are correct, do they mean the same?

Abdul Quadir

Posted 2015-06-06T04:36:08.393

Reputation: 31

Question was closed 2017-09-25T11:27:32.387

Welcome to ELL Stack Exchange! As you pointed out, this is a simple question. That's actually kind of a problem, believe it or not. I don't think this particular one will be closed, but it's close. See the help center and this meta question for more information.

– DCShannon – 2015-06-06T04:42:32.850



Yes those are both grammatically correct.

Yes, they mean pretty much the same thing. But... not exactly the same thing.

"I taught him to drive" will probably be interpreted as "I taught him how to drive" in most situations, but it could potentially be interpreted as "I taught him to choose to drive, rather than use other forms of transportation".

In spoken English, the phrase "teach me to drive" will have different stress patterns depending on the intended meaning. If the focus is on learning how to drive, then the emphasis will be on 'drive'. If the focus is on learning that driving is what should be done, then the emphasis will be more on 'to'.


Posted 2015-06-06T04:36:08.393

Reputation: 3 272

Will the same apply to the verb 'know'? For instance, is 'I know to drive' correct or should I say 'I know how to drive'? – Abdul Quadir – 2015-06-06T04:49:41.527

@AbdulQuadir I think the difference is stronger there. If you say I know to drive without 'how', I'm going to conclude you know that you should engage in the action of driving. This is all without context, though. The context is going to push the listener towards one meaning or the other more than anything else. – DCShannon – 2015-06-06T04:52:33.540

"I know to drive in the dead of night isn't easy." Now, this sentence is more in context but it doesn't mean the same as "I know how to drive." My question is whether the two sentences (mentioned in the question) are interchangeable. – Abdul Quadir – 2015-06-06T05:01:21.047

@AbdulQuadir That example actually isn't well formed. You would say "I know that driving in the middle of the night isn't easy". They're pretty close with 'taught', but definitely not with 'know'. – DCShannon – 2015-06-06T05:09:04.610


I would say that "I taught him to drive" is used almost exclusively in the "I taught him that he should drive" sense, and you'll confuse people more often than getting your meaning across.

"I know how to drive" vs "I know to drive" is even more polarized, "I know to drive" would be very difficult to understand that way. The preferred phrase for native speakers would be "I can drive" for either if they have a driver's license or just know how to drive, but "I know how to drive" would be a good clarification.


Posted 2015-06-06T04:36:08.393

Reputation: 3 192

I think "almost exclusively" is a serious exaggeration. Just Google "taught to drive" and you'll find plenty of examples. Obviously there are problems with Google Ngram analysis, but it's at least worth noting that "taught to drive" has more hits than "taught how to drive". Also, "I can drive" usually means you don't mind driving, not that you know how.

– DCShannon – 2015-06-06T05:08:26.057

@DCShannon You're right. 'I can drive' can mean a number of things. Depending on the situation, it can mean I know how to drive, I'm legally allowed to drive, I don't mind driving, etc. – Abdul Quadir – 2015-06-06T05:18:02.820

Oh, I hadn't considered the phrase as an object. As an object, "teach (one) to drive" is preferred to "teach (one) how to drive", definitely. Now I think you're more correct, with the caveat that in spoken English, the two have different stress patterns: "teach me to drive" for teaching the skill, and "teach me to drive" for a preference. Given the iambic tendency of English, I consider that evidence for an understood how, which should therefore be taught as correct. – modulusshift – 2015-06-06T05:23:38.783

@modulusshift That's a fair point concerning the emphasis. – DCShannon – 2015-06-08T00:00:47.673