Asking and Giving Directions in English

a gps in a car
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These dialogues focus on asking for and giving directions. Practice these English dialogues that give directions to different locations in a city. Once you feel comfortable with the vocabulary, ask for directions in your city with a partner or a classmate. Pretend you are traveling in your city.

Key Grammar Points to Remember

Imperative form: You should use the imperative form when providing directions. The imperative form is comprised of only the verb without any subject, and it tells someone directly what to do. Here are some examples of the imperative from the dialogue.

  • Take the blue line.
  • Continue going straight.
  • Change to the grayline.

While you would not use the imperative form in normal polite speech as it is considered too abrupt, it is appropriate when providing asked-for guidance.

Asking questions using how: How combines with many adjectives to ask information about details. Here are some common questions with how:

  • How long? Used to ask about the length of time
  • How much or many? Used to ask about price and quantity
  • How often? Used to ask about repetition

Key Vocabulary Words and Phrases Related to Directions

There are a few important grammar and vocabulary points to remember when asking for and giving directions. 

  • Take a right/left
  • Got it
  • I understand
  • Do you understand?
  • Go straight
  • Opposite
  • Take the first / second / third / right
  • Go right / left / straight at the light / corner / stop sign 
  • Continue straight on
  • Turn right / left at the light / corner / stop sign 
  • Get on the bus / subway at 12th Ave. / Whitman Street / Yellow Lane 
  • Follow the signs for the museum / exhibition center / exit 

Common Questions When Asking for Directions

  • Is it far? / Is it close? 
  • How far is it? / How close is it?
  • Could you please give me directions?
  • Where is the nearest bank / supermarket / gas station?
  • Where can I find a bookstore / restaurant / bus stop / restroom?
  • Is the museum / bank / department store near here?

Practice Dialogue: Taking the Subway

John: Linda, do you know how to get to Samson's and Co.? I've never been there before.
Linda: Are you driving or taking the subway?

John: The subway.
Linda: Take the blue line from 14th Ave. and change to the gray line at Andrew Square. Get off at 83rd street.

John: Just a moment, let me write this down.
Linda: Take the blue line from 14th Ave. and change to the gray line at Andrew Square. Get off at 83rd street. Got it?

John: Yes, thanks. Now, once I get to Andrew Square, how do I proceed?
Linda: Once you are on 83rd street, go straight, past the bank. Take the second left and continue going straight. It's across the street from Jack's Bar.

John: Can you repeat that?
Linda: Once you are on 83rd street, go straight, past the bank. Take the second left and continue going straight. It's across the street from Jack's Bar.

John: Thanks, Linda. How long does it take to get there?
Linda: It takes about a half-hour. When is your meeting?

John: It's at 10 a.m. I'll leave at 9:30.
Linda: That's a busy time. You should leave at 9.

John: OK. Thanks, Linda.
Linda: Not at all.

Practice Dialogue: Taking Directions Over the Telephone

Doug: Hello, this is Doug.
Susan: Hi Doug. This is Susan.

Doug: Hi Susan. How are you?
Susan: I'm fine. I have a question. Do you have a moment?

Doug: Certainly, how can I help you?
Susan: I'm driving to the conference center later today. Could you give me directions?

Doug: Sure. Are you leaving home?
Susan: Yes.

Doug: OK, take a left onto Bethany street and drive to the freeway entrance. Take the freeway toward Portland.
Susan: How far is it to the conference center from my home?

Doug: It's about 20 miles. Continue on the freeway to exit 23. Take the exit and turn right onto Broadway at the stoplight.
Susan: Let me repeat that. Take the freeway to exit 23 and turn right onto Broadway.

Doug: That's right. Continue on Broadway for about two miles and then turn left onto 16th Ave.
Susan: OK.

Doug: On 16th Ave., take the second right into the conference center.
Susan: Oh that's easy.

Doug: Yes, it's very easy to get to.
Susan: How long does it take to get there?

Doug: If there's no traffic, about 25 minutes. In heavy traffic, it takes about 45 minutes.
Susan: I'm leaving at 10 in the morning, so the traffic shouldn't be so bad.

Doug: Yes, that's right. Can I help you with anything else?
Susan: No that's it. Thanks for your help.

Doug: OK. Enjoy the conference.
Susan: Thanks, Doug. Bye. 

Practice Dialogue: Directions to the Museum

(On the street corner)

Tourist: Excuse me, can you help me? I'm lost!
Person: Certainly, where would you like to go?

Tourist: I'd like to go to the museum, but I can't find it. Is it far?
Person: No, not really. It's about a five-minute walk.

Tourist: Maybe I should call a taxi.
Person: No, It's very easy. Really. (pointing) I can give you directions.

Tourist: Thank you. That's very kind of you.
Person: Not at all. Now, go along this street to the traffic lights. Do you see them?

Tourist: Yes, I can see them.
Person: Right, at the traffic lights, turn left into Queen Mary Ave.

Tourist: Queen Mary Ave.
Person: Right. Go straight. Take the second left and enter Museum Drive.

Tourist: OK. Queen Mary Ave., straight on and then the third left, Museum Drive.
Person: No, it's the second left.

Tourist: Ah, right. The second street on my left.
Person: Right. Just follow Museum Drive and the museum is at the end of the road.

Tourist: Great. Thanks again for your help.
Person: Not at all.

Practice Dialogue: Directions to a Supermarket

Tom: Could you go to the supermarket and buy some food? There's nothing to eat in the house!
Helen: Sure, but I don't know the way. We've just moved in.

Tom: I'll give you directions. Not to worry.
Helen: Thanks. 

Tom: At the end of the street, take a right. Then drive two miles to White Ave. After that, it's another mile to...
Helen: Let me write this down. I won't remember it!

Tom: OK. First, take a right at the end of the street.
Helen: Got it.

Tom: Next, drive two miles to White Ave.
Helen: Two miles to White Ave. After that?

Tom: Take a left onto 14th Street.
Helen: Left onto 14th Street. 

Tom: The supermarket is on the left, next to the bank.
Helen: How far is it after I turn on to 14th Street?

Tom: It's not far, maybe about 200 yards.
Helen: OK. Great. Is there anything special you want?

Tom: No, just the usual. Well, if you could get some beer that would be great!
Helen: OK, just this once!

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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Asking and Giving Directions in English." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Beare, Kenneth. (2023, April 5). Asking and Giving Directions in English. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "Asking and Giving Directions in English." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 8, 2023).