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While learning on Memrise course (Top 10,000 words, Part 1), I found that отоходить/отойти shows the meaning of not only leaving by foot, but also leaving by train. The user-based Memrise course often includes the course creator's misunderstanding or typos, so I checked my dictionary, and found that отоходить/отойти also includes the meaning with "(a vehicle) depart(s) off a stop" (it is not English dictionary so I translated).

But there is also a verb that is used for 'going by vehicle', with 'ехать' family, in which case, отъезжать/отъехать. So if отоходить/отойти also has the meaning, what is the difference from отъезжать/отъехать and when to use the one over the other?

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Does отходить/отойти include moving by train?

No. But it can describe the movement of the train itself:

  • Поезд отходит в 20:00. - The train leaves at 20:00.

(От)ехать is more akin to 'ride':

  • Мы отъехали от города на 5 км. - We went (by transport) 5 km out of the city.

Simply put, the difference идти/ходить vs ехать/ездить is like 'move by oneself' vs 'ride'. Both animate (man) and inanimate (bus) things can move by themselves (идти/ходить).

There are a lot of edge cases which have been discussed in greater detail in this SO question:

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  • Thanks. So the rule is inanimate objects can take отоходить/отойти as a verb yet animate objects cannot?
    – Blaszard
    Apr 22 at 13:29
  • @Blaszard Animate objects that have feet or similar appendages can certainly отоходить/отойти.
    – mustaccio
    Apr 22 at 18:42
  • @mustaccio I meant it such that animate objects cannot take отоходить/отойти as a verb when they go by vehicle. Of course they can take the verb when going by foot.
    – Blaszard
    Apr 23 at 13:28
  • @Blaszard, please see my updated answer. Apr 23 at 17:18

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