young guy looking to ask for directions

How to Ask for and Give Directions in English

It’s easier now more than ever to find your way around, but asking for directions is still an essential English skill. After all, talking to locals is the only way to find out about cool cafes and hidden gems on the way to your destination.

Read on for 200+ useful expressions for asking and giving directions in English. Then check out an example conversation that puts these into practice.


Important Direction Vocabulary Words

woman standing in front of traffic lights

Before we get into phrases for asking and giving directions, let’s look at the most basic words that you’ll need to know. 

Verbs Related to Directions

The following verbs are very important. In fact, you can give very simple but effective directions just with the verbs “turn…” and “go straight…” 

Position Words

You’ll need to know position words for clearer directions. For example, the destination might be near a coffee shop or next to a bank.   

General Direction Words

These words represent the eight main directions in English. You’ll still see them on maps (and even on street names sometimes): 

Asking for Directions

tourist asking for directions

I know you might be shy and it’s hard to stop a stranger on the street. Perhaps you’re not confident about your spoken English fluency. Maybe it’s your listening skills that you’re worried about.

But asking for directions in English is actually quite straightforward if you know the right vocabulary! 

Basic Phrases

When you’re approaching someone to ask for directions, start off with these polite phrases to get their attention:

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Then you can ask for directions to the specific place you have in mind: 


Distance can be described by kilometers or miles, but you can also ask about time—how long it’ll take you to get to your destination. 


Common modes of transportation include walking, taking the bus or train, driving and even riding a bike. 


Landmarks are very helpful for checking if you’re on the right track with the directions. 


Since listening to directions can sometimes be confusing, you can make sure you’re understanding it correctly with these expressions:

Saying Thank You

Of course, don’t forget to thank the other person afterwards!

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Giving Directions

girl giving directions to tourist

Chances are, you’ve experienced being asked for help before with directions. Giving directions in English is a little trickier because you need to imagine the route that the other person will take, but you’ll get the hang of it with practice! It’s important to give the right directions because you don’t want other people to get (more) lost, do you?

Basic Phrases

These are the most important phrases for you to remember:


Most of the time, people will want to know how long it takes to get somewhere. 

Suggesting Other Routes

If you know other ways to get to the destination, these are the phrases to use: 


Don’t forget to mention landmarks so the people you’re helping out will be less likely to get lost! 

Checking In

If you’re not rushing, you can ask these to make sure the other person understood your directions: 

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Directions for Transportation

The vocabulary above is great for general directions, but there are also more specific expressions depending on the mode of transportation. 


woman giving directions for driving

Asking for Directions

Giving Directions

Riding the Train or Bus 

young women waiting at bus station

The expressions below are for taking the bus, but you can easily adapt these for taking the train! Instead of saying “bus stop,” just say “station.” 

Asking for Directions

Giving Directions

At the Airport

young woman walking in airport

Asking for Directions

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Giving Directions

Common Place Names

shops on the street

Wherever you are, most cities will have these places in common. When it comes to directions, these are often used as landmarks (so yes, you do have to learn nouns!):  

Example Conversation

To see how these direction words and expressions work in action, here’s an example conversation. Olivia is a traveler who’s looking for a library, while Alex is a stranger who’s willing to help her with directions:  

Olivia: Excuse me, do you know where the Central Library is?

Alex: Oh, sure! The Central Library, right? Let me give you directions.

Olivia: That’d be great, thank you!

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Alex: No problem! So you’ll want to make a left on Maple Street, then go straight until you see the city park. Pass the park, and it’s right next to the big bookstore. You’ll see a fountain on your right just before the library.

Olivia: Should I take the bus or is it walkable?

Alex: It’s definitely walkable. But if you’re in a hurry, you can catch the number 5 bus. It stops right in front of the library.

Olivia: How far is it to the library from here if I walk?

Alex: It’s about a 15-minute walk. Not too far.

Olivia: Are there any landmarks I should look out for, apart from the fountain?

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Alex: Yes, after you pass the park, there’s a big mural of a tree on a building’s side. The library is just two blocks from there.

Olivia: Did you say turn left or right on Maple Street?

Alex: Turn left on Maple Street.

Olivia: Got it. Thanks for the directions!

Alex: Oh, do you need me to explain again?

Olivia: No need, that was clear. I appreciate your help so much. Thank you, and have a great day!

Alex: You too! Bye!


Asking and giving directions are important components of basic conversational language. We hope the structure and words in this article will enlarge your vocabulary and make you comfortable enough to ask and give directions.

Knowing these words will make you feel more confident to go places and start talking with the locals. Who knows what’s awaiting you!

Happy travels!

And One More Thing...

If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:


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