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Directions and Locations in Chinese (Part Two) Posted by 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

Directions in Chinese

Don’t get lost!

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:

请问,你知道博物馆在哪里吗?
qǐng wèn, nǐ zhī dào bó wù guǎn zài nǎ lǐ ma
Excuse me, do you know where the museum is?

对不起,你能告诉我怎么去火车站吗?
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.

Directions

Here are some of the most common words/phrases you’ll hear when getting directions:

go straight

turn

left

right

turn left

turn right

go… (direction)

forward

north

south

east

west

go forward

go north

go west

go left

go right

corner

intersection

traffic light

u-turn

far

near

meter

kilometer

arrived

一直走

/

左转

右拐

往… 走

西

往前走

往北走

往西走

往左

往右

拐角

路口

红绿灯

掉头

公里

到了

yī zhí zǒu

zhuǎn/guǎi

zuǒ

yòu

zuǒ zhuǎn

yòu guǎi

wǎng… zǒu

qián

běi

nán

dōng

wǎng qián zǒu

wǎng běi zǒu

wǎng xī zǒu

wǎng zuǒ

wǎng yòu

guǎi jiǎo

lù kǒu

hóng lǜ dēng

diào tóu

yuǎn

jìn

gōng lǐ

dào le

Let’s look at a few examples of directions and you’ll see some of these words in action:

往前走五百米然后左拐,就到了
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.

往北走一公里,然后在红绿灯掉头
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.

一直走,然后在第一个路口右转
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.

You’ve made it this far, go ahead and read Part Three!

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About the Author:sasha

Sasha is a teacher, student, writer, photographer, web designer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently planning a trip through Central/South America.


Comments:

  1. NII AMARTEY AMARTEI:

    I think there is a mistake with the directions particularly- “far” and “near”. kindly have a check

    • sasha:

      @NII AMARTEY AMARTEI Thanks so much! You’re absolutely right. I had the words flipped. It’s been corrected now, so everybody knows that “far” is 远 and “near” is 近.


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