When you get lost in an English speaking country most people are happy to point you in the right direction. Here are some important ideas to consider and some key phrases to use when trying to find your way.
Introduce Yourself Politely
When asking for directions in English, try to approach someone politely and briefly explain your situation. Expressions as simple as “hello” or “excuse me,” can make people feel comfortable. Additionally, expressing that you’re not a local can make people understand your situation and serve as a smooth introduction. Keep it simple. Here are some examples:
“Excuse me but I’m lost. Can you please tell me how to get to…”
“Hello. I’m not from around here. I’m hoping you could tell me where…”
“Excuse me, I’m looking for…”
“Could you please help me find…”
Ask Questions Clearly
In order to get a concise answer, make sure your questions are clear. “Where,” “how,” and “how long/how far” can be helpful. If you don’t know exactly where you need to go, explain what you are looking for as clearly as possible. Here are some examples:
“How do I get to the Empire State Building from here?”
“Where can I find the nearest bookstore?”
“How far is it to the train station?”
Familiarize Yourself with Landmarks
Often when you are asking for directions in English, people will reference specific buildings, local businesses, or other natural landmarks that you might be unfamiliar with in their answer. Try to pay careful attention to proper nouns and new words so you can recognize them again. For example:
“Drive until you see a large green sign. Then, turn left on Willow Street.”
“Turn right at Rick’s gas station.”
“If you reach Armstrong Park, you have gone too far.”
Repeat and Confirm
Once you’ve gotten enough information, repeat it back to whoever is helping you to make sure you understand what you’ve been told. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if you are still confused. If you don’t have a map, ask them to draw one or write down simple directions so you don’t forget.
In this case you can say, “Thank you for your help. I’d just like to confirm…”
Remember, the more you practice asking for directions in English, the more comfortable you will be finding your way. Now, get out there and explore the world.
Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann