Directions and Locations in Chinese (Part Two) Posted by sasha on Jul 13, 2017 in grammar, Vocabulary
Getting lost is no fun, especially in a foreign land where you can’t speak the language. In Part One of this series, we learned a bunch of Chinese words for common places and location. Now we’ll get into some more details as we learn about directions in Chinese.
Asking for Directions
Before you can begin to understand directions in Chinese, you’ll have to learn how to ask for them. More often than not, you ask for directions from a stranger. As such, it’s useful to learn a couple of polite phrases for bothering somebody to help you:
Excuse me… (请问 – qǐng wèn)
Sorry… (对不起 – duì bù qǐ)
(Sorry) to bother you… (麻烦你 – má fan nǐ)
It’s always a good idea to throw one of those in before you go asking for directions. Now here are a few different ways you can do that:
Where is…? (… 在哪里? – zài nǎ lǐ)
How can I get to…? (… 怎么走? – zěn me zǒu)
Do you know… ? (你知道… 吗? – nǐ zhī dào… ma)
Can you tell me…? (你能告诉我… 吗？- nǐ néng gào sù wǒ… ma)
Put it all together, and you might say something like this:
qǐng wèn, nǐ zhī dào bó wù guǎn zài nǎ lǐ ma
Excuse me, do you know where the museum is?
duì bù qǐ, nǐ néng gào sù wǒ zěn me qù huǒ chē zhàn ma
Sorry, can you tell me how to get to the train station?
Ok, great – so you know how to ask for directions. The problem is understanding them! Let’s move on to some useful words and phrases related to directions in Chinese.
Here are some of the most common words/phrases you’ll hear when getting directions:
yī zhí zǒu
wǎng qián zǒu
wǎng běi zǒu
wǎng xī zǒu
hóng lǜ dēng
Let’s look at a few examples of directions and you’ll see some of these words in action:
wǎng qián zǒu wǔ bǎi mǐ rán hòu zuǒ guǎi, jiù dào le
Go straight for 500 meters then turn left, and you’ll have arrived.
wǎng běi zǒu yī gōng lǐ, rán hòu zài hóng lǜ dēng diào tóu
Go north for one km, then at the traffic light make a u-turn.
yī zhí zǒu, rán hòu zài dì yī gè lù kǒu yòu zhuǎn
Go straight, then turn right at the first intersection.
Why don’t you give it a try? Think of a place near where you live that you can easily give directions to and try to do it in Chinese!
In the next post, we’ll put everything we learned together and read a few sample conversations of a tourist asking a local for directions.