How To Ask For Directions in English – Part 1


I’ve decided to split today’s episode in 2 parts. Today’s episode will be about Asking for directions. If you are travelling to an English speaking country you will need to feel confident about asking for directions. I don’t want you to get lost, so I am going to tell you how to ask for directions properly, and next week I will tell you how to GIVE directions. Hope you enjoy today’s episode :)


Hey guys, you are listening to English Made Simple, this is episode number 86, numero ochenta y seis.

Hello, hello – Welcome to the English Made Simple podcast, my name is Milena from

How are you guys doing? I hope you guys are doing well!

I hope you are recovering well from the last episode, I think I overwhelmed you with too much information. Too many new words, oh my gosh, Milena nooo haha my head is spinning. It’s all good amigos, transcripts are ready so you can read them on my website, and listen to the last two episodes at the same time, while you are reading the transcript. That’s the idea anyway! That should hopefully help you a bit.

Before I go any further, I would like to say welcome to my regular listeners and also to the newbies as well. People who have just joined us recently or are tuning in for the very first time. Welcome amigos!

I also want to send a big shout out to the new listeners who took their time to email me recently and tell me how much they enjoy listening to the EMS show. A shout out just means a greeting, (it’s slang), it’s another way to say hello. There are actually 4 special listeners that I’d like to send greetings to.

A special hello goes to Mantee Jusu Foster from Liberia in Africa! Wow! Mantee please spread the word! I hope I pronounced your name correctly! Wow all the way from Africa, can you believe that? Hello to Ricardo as well, from Guadalajara Mexico, oralebuey! That’s awesome, another listener from Guadalajara! Thank you Ricardo for your nice comments. And also a big thanks to Francisco Javier from Spain – good luck for your Cambridge English exam, keep listening I am sure you will do well!

And Giovanni from Brazil, also sent me a message – another raving fan of the show – Muito obrigado for your nice comments, thank you so much! I certainly hope you can improve your Spanish and your English as well.

This is so cool, thanks to everyone, your feedback means so much to me. It certainly keeps me going!

So, Milena are you ready to start today’s episode? Of course, Claro que si!

Today we are going to learn how to ask for directions.

You know there are two ways to pronounce this word – DIRECTIONS – you can say direction or direction. Choose whatever you feel comfortable with and stick with it.
I tend to say it as DI-RECTIONS.

I have decided to split today’s episode in two parts. Today’s episode will be about Asking for directions. If you are travelling to an English speaking country you will need to feel confident about asking for directions, finding your way around the city or the suburb where you are staying.

I don’t want you to get lost, so I am going to tell you how to ask for directions properly, and next week I will tell you how to give directions. This will help you understand directions better.

If you are doing English exams like IELTS or TOEFL or FCE today’s episode and the next episode will definitely help you prepare for the exams. So listen carefully amigos.

We will also cover a little bit about the public transport today. It’s important to know this as well when asking for directions.

As you know from my previous episode, I prefer to drive rather than catch the public transport. If I had the option of walking to my destination I would rather travel by foot.

By foot or On foot is an expression – and it means walking, not driving or travelling by public transport.

I have decided to travel by foot.

In Spanish this is ‘voy a pata’ or ir caminando or ir a pie – which is more formal in Spanish.

Let me ask you this amigos: Would you rather drive, cycle or catch the public transport if you were commuting to work for example? Do you have a preference at all? Like me, I prefer to drive…

You will notice I used the phrase Catch the Public transport. There are different ways you can say this, you can say:

Take the public transport, catch the public transport, get the public transport or hop on the public transport.

Let me expand on this a little bit further.

You can:
Catch the bus, take the bus, get the bus or hop on the bus – to get to your final destination.
Catch the train, take the train, get the train or hop on the train – to get somewhere.

In Spanish would be something like subir al tren or tomar el tren o tomar el metro for example.

In Australia, we can hop on a tram to go to work, we have trams here in Melbourne. It’s kinda European way of travelling, getting on a tram. In Serbia – I remember – we have something called trolleybuses, this is an electric bus.

Ok so New word for you guys, or new phrase is to hop on the bus.

Hop is a 3 letter word and we spell it as – H O P. To hop is a regular verb that means to move by jumping on one foot.
Synonyms for hopping are: skipping, jumping, bouncing and leaping.
Like the smurfs, (como los pitufos) you know those little blue creatures – you used to see them on TV a lot when you were a kid, it’s a cartoon and these little smurfs they like to hop and jump and sing “la la la la”
Well, that’s how you hop on the bus haha you have to sing to hop on the bus at the same time! haha

Obviously, I am exaggerating here you don’t really hop on the bus like a smurf…. but you can try and see what kind of reaction you get from the other people around you yaya see what happens, you know what I mean…

Ok so let’s pretend you are a tourist and you want to see a museum. This is your first time in Melbourne and you don’t know how to get to the museum.

Well, sometimes just having a map in front of you is not enough and you will have to stop somebody on the street to get directions, let’s imagine you are lost. You are completely lost, you don’t know where you are.

First of all guys, remember – always use the magic word “PLEASE” when you ask someone to give you directions. The magic word is “please”. It’s just polite, and nice manners. English people can’t get enough of these words and phrases such as Please and Thank you and the other word is Sorry. You will hear these phrases a lot no matter what the topic is or what the conversation is about. They tend to use these words a lot. These words are freely thrown in the conversation every time. So remember them please.

You can also check out episode number #36 called How to Ask questions politely – That was episode number 36. This will also help you when you need to ask for directions.

And, if you’re speaking face-to-face with someone, use your hands to show left, right, or straight ahead. That’s my tip, speak English and speak body language too. It will help… I am sure.

So how can we get to this museum?

Here are 8 different ways to ask for directions to the museum:

1. Excuse me sir or madam, how do I get to the museum from here?
2. Can you please tell me how to get to the museum?
3. Is there a museum near here? Is there a museum close by?
4. Excuse me sir or madam, could you please tell me where on the map am I at the moment? How far away is the museum from here?
5. Can you please give me directions to the museum?
6. Can you please tell me what bus should I take to get to the museum?
7. Will this bus take me to the museum?
8. Excuse me sir, I am looking for the Melbourne museum, can you please tell me where it is?

Alright so new words and phrases to remember.

We use the verb TAKE when we talk about public transport. Will this bus take me to the museum?
In this case you have to use the word TAKE. You can’t really say Will this bus catch me to the museum. It just doesn’t make sense. If in doubt, always use the verb TAKE when talking about public transport.

BUT If we are giving directions to someone then it’s ok to say: just catch the bus to the museum. Just hop on this bus and it will take you to the museum.

Also from my earlier example…getting to the museum…We can say: Get to the museum, we can say get to the school, get to the childcare and so on. In this case, the phrase “get to somewhere” means, to reach your final destination, to arrive at your final destination. How do I get there?

Ok, excellent!

Also, I used the phrase: Close by – these are 2 words, close and by, it means a short distance away, and other synonyms are near or nearby.

In my last example, I said Looking For the Melbourne museum… “Looking for” is another way to say you are searching for something. In Spanish: buscar.
I am looking for the Melbourne museum. I am looking for my car, I don’t know where I parked, aaargh.

Great, hopefully you are following me so far amigos.

I’d like to continue now with another example:

One of my listeners Sergio from Santiago, had an interesting questions awhile ago. He was curious to know how to ask for directions when he was looking for a childcare centre to pick up his cousin’s kids somewhere in Europe, when he was staying there.

In this case Sergio could’ve asked somebody:

How do I get to the kindergarten from here? I need to pick up (the) kids from school. Kindergarten is kind of a long word and short for kindergarten is kindy. It just means childcare as well.

Excuse me sir, can you please tell me where the kindy is around here? What is the fastest way to the kindy from here?
Is there a kindy close by? Can you please point me in the direction of the Smurfs Kindy childcare centre?

Ok! Cool – easy peasy japanesey!

Some important adverbs to remember when asking for directions are: near, nearer, nearest, close, closer, closest – these will be useful to know when you need to find something fast.
For example, can you please tell me where the closest toilet is around here?
I really need it fast!

Or the more polite way to ask is: Can you please tell me where the closest loo is around here?
Instead of toilets you can use the word Loo. It’s spelt as L O O.
In Spanish loo is baño.

Loo is a nice way to say Toilet.

And I bet you didn’t know about this one before, I recommend you practise using this word instead of toilet. You will sound more fluent. You will also surprise your teacher…when you ask them: Can I go to the loo please?
Excuse me Mr Iglesias, can I please go to the loo? Can I please go to the toilet?

Another example: Can you please tell me where the nearest bus stop is?

Excellent amigos, you are doing great so far!

I don’t want to overwhelm you this week, so next week, in episode #89 we are going to learn how to give directions. This episode will be extremely important because we are going to learn some important prepositions when getting or giving directions.

For example, prepositions such as:

Left and Right
Next to
Straight Ahead
Opposite of

And so on.

So let’s sum up today’s episode, let’s just quickly summarise it.

Don’t forget to use the magic word Please when you ask someone to give you directions. Always say Thank you at the end, and if you didn’t hear them the first time, always say Sorry, what was that? Can you please repeat that slowly?

We use TAKE when we are talking about the public transport, but we can also use the words such as: Catch or Hop on when we are giving or receiving directions.

And also the word GET. We use “GET” when we want to say that we want to Get Somewhere -meaning we want to reach our final destination or arrive somewhere.

And that’s it for now amigos!

Thank you for listening to the English Made Simple show, you’ve been hanging out with Milena chilena, until next time muchachos! Hasta la proxima!

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