AEE 668: What to Say When You Can’t Give Someone Directions in English

how to give directions in English

Do you ever get asked for directions but have no idea what to say because you don’t know the area?

Today find out what to say in English so that you don’t lead someone down the wrong path!

Today we have a question from a listener:

“Hi Lindsay, I’m Ali, I’m an everyday listener of your show. I’d like to start up with thank you both for your amazing work, you both are thoughtful, helpful, humorous, and intelligent, you both have very good personality, by the way I hope it’s rewarding, I mean your work. Ok get back to point, my question is about directions, if someone asks you a question about how do I get somewhere? I think that’s tough, not only for ESL Learners but also native speakers in any language, so I hope you both can help me out by giving wonderful examples, thank you. Finally I hope you both be healthy and be  happy and things would be great, bye have a good one.” –Ali

 

We’re not completely sure what this listener is asking but we’re going to assume that he’s asking what to do when you don’t know how to give the person directions because you are in a new place too.

In my case, I have been living in Boston area for 5 years but I am a “Cambridge rat.”

I stay on this side of the river so I am not aware of the geography of Boston although it’s gotten better since I started biking around the city more often.

Here is what you can say:

  • “Oh I’m new here too. Sorry I wish I could help.”
  • “I’m really not sure. Maybe you should ask someone else.”
  • “Hmm I think it’s (that way) or (over there) but you should double check on a map.”
  • “That’s a good question. Let me check it on my map.”

 

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The key to remember:

The key here is that you shouldn’t lie and pretend that you know. If you do that you might send people in the wrong direction to avoid losing face.

This is a waste of their time for everyone involved.

 

Do you have a question from today’s episode?

Let us know in the comments below.

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Photo Credit: http://bit.ly/2h6lY0M
  • 1) A: Can you tell me how to get to the train station ?
    B: Oh I’m new here too. Sorry I wish I could help .
    2) A: Do you know where the post office is ?
    B: I’m really not sure . Maybe you should ask someone else .
    3) A: Would you show me the way to the Central Park ?
    B: Hmm I think it’s on the right / that way or on the left / over there but you should double check on a map .
    4) A: Is the City Zoo on the First Avenue ?
    B: That’s a good question . Let me check it on my map .