Asking for and Giving Directions in English
Asking for and giving directions in English is an important skill to have if you plan on travelling.
For instance; you arrive in a new city and you don’t know where anything is! You are lost! How do you find out where you need to go? Well, you will need to ask someone for directions.
Similarly, you could be walking along the path in your city or town when somebody stops you. They look worried and confused; they ask you for directions! Are you able to tell them how to get somewhere in a clear and understandable way?
In this blog, we will practice asking for, and giving directions in English.
First of all, let’s take a look at some verbs we use when giving directions;
1 - Verbs
Let’s take a look at the most common verbs used when we are giving directions in English;
- Turn left
- Turn right
- Go past
- Go along
- Go straight on / ahead
- Take the … (1st right, 2nd left…)
As well as this, we need to use prepositions to describe where a place is;
2 - Prepositions
Here are the most common prepositions used when we are giving directions in English;
- Next to
- In front of
- On the corner of …
- At the corner
- Opposite / across from
3 - Landmarks to note
In every town or city, there are certain places or ‘landmarks’ that are sure to be seen.
Therefore, it is a good idea to become familiar with these, so that when someone gives you directions, you can follow them clearly. Furthermore, when you give directions in English, you can use landmarks as pinpoints for that person to follow. There are many common landmarks to be found in cities or towns.
- Traffic lights
- Zebra crossing / Pedestrian crossing
Now that we know some very useful verbs, prepositions, and landmarks to describe how to get to a particular place; let’s see the different ways in which we can ask for directions in English.
4 - Asking for directions in English
First, you should say “Excuse me?” as this is a polite way of interrupting someone or stopping someone on the street, followed by;
- “Excuse me?” I’m lost; could you tell me where the ‘Hilton hotel’ is please?
- “Excuse me?” Do you know how to get to the ‘Hilton hotel’?
- “Excuse me?” I’m looking for the ‘Hilton hotel’; do you know where it is?
- “Excuse me?” How do I get to the ‘‘Hilton hotel’?
- “Excuse me?” Do you know where the nearest hotel is?
So, do you think you can confidently ask a stranger for directions in English?
Have a look at this great video to show you how to ask for and give directions in English.
There are many useful example sentences in the video.
Next, let’s find out how we can give directions in English clearly;
5 - Giving directions in English
First of all, if you know where the person wants to go, there are many ways to tell them this.
- Sure! It’s not too far from here… (followed by specific directions)
- Yes, I do! You need to … (followed by specific directions)
- Yes! It’s about a 15 minutes’ walk / 5-minute drive from here. You should … (followed by specific directions)
- Sure! The easiest way is to … (followed by specific directions)
- Sure! The best way is to … (followed by specific directions)
- Yes, I do! The quickest way is to … (followed by specific directions)
In short, these are the most common ways to ask for and give directions in English.
They are simple to follow and understand; and will allow for clear directions to be given or heard.
Examples of how to ask for directions in English
- A: Excuse me, do you know how to get to the movie theatre?
- B: Sure! It’s about a 5-minute walk from here. You need to go straight until you get to the T-junction. Then, turn left. The movie theatre is next to the shopping mall.
- A: Ok, that’s great; thanks!
- A: Excuse me, I’m looking for ‘Restaurant Italy’, do you know where it is?
- B: Yes, I do! It’s not far from here. The quickest way is to walk along Rose street until you get to the traffic lights. At the traffic lights turn right; then take the 2nd turn left onto Baker Street. Go straight ahead until you see the Park. ‘Restaurant Italy’ is across from the Park.
- A: Wonderful! Thank you for your help!
- A: Excuse me, I’m lost. Could you tell me where the Art Museum is, please?
- B: Sure! It’s very close by! First, go along Main street until you get to ‘Yummy café’. Then, Cross the zebra crossing and walk along on the opposite side of the street. You will come to a crossroads. Take the 3rd right. You will see the museum between the bank and the train station.
- Ok, thank you for your help!
Did you find these directions easy or difficult to follow?
To summarize; the best way to practice giving directions in English is by practicing with someone else.
For instance, you could download a simple town plan/map and then practice asking your friend for directions. After that, switch roles and have your friend ask you for directions in English!
Another way to practice is to use your own town or city to describe where a place is with your friend!
So, the next time you meet a lost tourist in your town or city; try to help them out using these tips and guidelines.
Or even better; the next time you travel abroad; try to ask a local for directions without using the map app on your phone! Good luck!!
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