Are you in a new city and a little lost (don’t know where you are)? Why not use English to get around (move in the city, find your way)? You can ask or give directions in English!
English can be very useful in a foreign (new, unfamiliar) city. If you don’t speak the local language, use English. It is the lingua franca, after all. Chances are high (you have a good possibility/chance) you can find someone who speaks English to help you. Here are some of the best ways to ask for or give directions in English.
How do you get to…?
Looking for that famous cathedral? Want to find the Statue of Liberty? Or do you just want to find someplace good to eat for lunch?
First you must say, “Excuse me!” to get someone’s attention so they know you want to talk to them. Then you can ask them “How do you get to,” followed by whatever you’re looking for. If you are lucky, they will be able to help you.
- Excuse me, how do you get to Times Square?
- Can you help me? I’m a little lost. How do you get to the art museum?
Can you tell me / Do you know where… is?
Do you need a restroom or an afternoon coffee pick-me-up (energy, caffeine boost)? Then use this phrase by inserting (putting in) what you want to know, and you’ll be well on your way (very sure of where to go). It’s a great way to ask for help.
- Can you tell me where the bathroom is? I don’t see a sign for it.
- Do you know where a good coffee shop is? We would like to get a coffee and a snack.
It’s right across the street.
If you want to give someone directions in English, you can use this phrase. Say (imagine, maybe) they’re looking for a good coffee shop, and your favorite coffee shop is directly across from you. Point them in the direction to a good cup of Joe (cup of coffee) with this phrase.
- The stadium is right across the street. Enjoy the game!
- There’s a really nice cafe right across the street. They have excellent cake.
You go down the street two blocks, then take a left.
Are the directions to where someone wants to go a little more complicated (difficult, hard, tricky)? Get someone on the right path with this phrase.
Of course, substitute (insert, put) in the correct amounts (numbers)/directions (left, right, straight) so that they’re really going the right (correct) way. You can also say “turn left” instead of “take a left”.
- Take the first left, then walk straight for three blocks, then take a right. Walk straight for four blocks, and it’s on your right.
- Go straight for two blocks, then turn left. Continue straight for another three blocks, and it’ll be on your left.
You can’t miss it.
This phrase is good to use if the place someone is looking for should be very obvious (easy to see). For instance, if you need to give directions in English to your famous landmark, like the Eiffel Tower. Maybe from the point you are standing, you cannot see it because it’s behind a building, but it will be right there when you just go around the corner.
When you’re finished giving directions, you can say, “….It’s on the right/left. You can’t miss it.” With this phrase, they will know that as soon as they follow your instructions (directions), they will practically run into it!
In other words, it would be very difficult to miss if you go the right way.
- It’s a huge building on the right hand side of the street. You can’t miss it!
- You can’t miss it! It’ll be right in front of you.
Do you have any handy (helpful, good-to-know, convenient) tips for someone who needs to ask for or give directions in English? Do you like to give direcctions in English? Share with us in the comments section below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and isn’t always the best at giving directions in English. But she knows from experience that the Eiffel Tower sometimes hides from you…until you turn the corner! You just need to turn the right corner…
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