How to Give and Get Directions—Not with Textbook English

Aug 1, 2018 | Advanced Vocabulary, English Conversation

When living in a new city or traveling we spend a lot of time finding our way around.  So you may find yourself asking for or being asked for directions in English. There are so many textbooks and lessons out there on how to give and get directions in English but…

The thing is, native speakers don’t learn to give directions from textbooks, so they don’t always say the things you might expect. You may find yourself asking for directions and feeling confused by the answers.

In today’s Confident English lesson, I’ll share with you some of the ways people actually give directions and some skills you can use to understand that valuable information.  

By the end of this video you will be able to confidently ask for, understand and give directions like a local.

After you watch the video, be sure to check out the additional example of what native speakers really say below and share your answer to the challenge question.

How native speakers really give directions.

Lesson by Annemarie

How to Give and Get Directions in English

Ask for Directions

  • Do you know where I can find the station?
  • How do I get to the library from here?
  • Would you happen to know where the post office is?
  • Could you please tell me how to get to the park?

When You Don’t Know How to Give Directions

  • I’m sorry, I’m not from around here.
  • I have no idea, sorry.
  • I’m not sure, you’d better ask someone else, sorry.

Textbook English

What We Really Say

  • Go straight down this street
  • Head down that way
  • Just along here
  • Just go down here
  • Follow this street
  • Head up there
  • Head this way
  • It’s basically that way
  • Turn right at the traffic lights
  • Take a right at the lights
  • Hang a right at the intersection
  • Make a right at the lights
  • Take the road on the right
  • Make sure you go right at the first big corner
  • Continue going straight ahead until you reach Main Street
  • Continue on ’til you get to Main, which is the one with the bank on the corner
  • Keep going ’til you hit the intersection at Main
  • You’re gonna wanna keep going ’til you see the bank at the traffic lights
  • Don’t stop until you get to the coffee shop with the red roof, which is next to the bank
  • You’re gonna go about 2 blocks ’til you hit Main Street
  • Then it is the building on the left
  • You’ll know it, it’ll be the one on the left with the green sign
  • Then you’re gonna see it on the left opposite the bank
  • It’ll be on the left, and if you get to the gallery you’ll know you’ve gone too far

Now that you’ve watched the video and learned some new language, it’s time to practice!

Today I want you to practice giving me directions. Use the map below and use some of the language you’ve learned to tell me how to get from Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

Use the comments section at the end of this lesson to share your answer or ask questions. It’s the best place to communicate with me, get feedback, and learn from others in our Confident English Community.

~ Annemarie

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