If you’re going to a Chinese-speaking country, whether for travel or to live there for a longer period of time, it’s important to be able to ask for directions. In this article, you’ll learn some vocabulary and questions that you can use when you get lost. Of course, asking for directions in Chinese is the easy part. What’s harder is understanding the directions that people give you. Depending on your destination, the directions might be complicated and therefore the answer you get might also be lengthy. But fear not, this article will also help you learn the basics of understanding directions in Chinese as well.
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Asking Directions in Chinese: 8 Sentence Patterns
Let’s start by learning how to ask for directions in Chinese. Below are some common question patterns and phrases to use when asking for directions.
1- Excuse me, may I ask you for directions?
|Bù hǎoyìsi, wǒ kěyǐ xiàng nǐ wèn lù ma?
This is a polite way to approach someone for directions. The first part of the sentence “不好意思” (excuse me/sorry) can be used before other questions when asking directions as well to be more polite.
2- I’m lost.
|Wǒ mílù le.
This is another phrase you might want to use when approaching someone for directions. If someone notices that you look lost and wants to help you out, they might also ask you, “Are you lost?” which is:
|Nǐ mílù le ma?
3- Excuse me, where is _____?
|请问 _____ 在哪里？
|請問 _____ 在哪裡？
|Qǐngwèn _____ zài nǎlǐ?
You can use this question pattern to ask where any place is, by inserting the location you want to ask about into the sentence. For example, you could say: 请问博物馆在哪里？(Where is the museum?) Or: 请问和平路在哪里？(Where is Heping Road?) The first part of this sentence, “请问” can be used before anything that you’d like to ask to be more polite, as it means “excuse me” or “may I please ask.” The last part of the sentence “哪里” means “where” but some people, especially those from Beijing also say “哪儿” when asking where something is.
4- Do you know how to get to _____?
|你知道怎么去 _____ 吗？
|你知道怎麼去 _____ 嗎？
|Nǐ zhīdào zěnme qù _____ ma?
This question pattern is useful when asking for directions. Just insert your destination into the blank. For example: 你知道怎么去市政府吗？(Do you know how to get to city hall?) Or: 你知道怎么去港口吗？(Do you know how to get to the harbor?)
5- How do I get to _____?
|_____ zěnme qù？
This is another way to ask for directions in Chinese. You could ask something like: 火车站怎么去？(How do I get to the train station?) If you want to walk to a destination, you can also replace the 去 (go) in this sentence with 走 (walk). For example: 艺术馆怎么走? (How do I walk to the art gallery?)
6- Where is the nearest _____?
|最近的 _____ 在哪里？
|最近的 _____ 在哪裡？
|Zuìjìn de _____ zài nǎlǐ?
This is a useful pattern when you’re in an unfamiliar area and need to find some place quick for a specific purpose, like a convenience store or bank. Just like in the previous examples, you can replace “convenience store” in this question with whatever you are looking for. For example: 最近的便利商店在哪里？(Where is the nearest convenience store?) Or: 最近的医院在哪里？(Where is the nearest hospital?)
7- Is there a _____ nearby?
|这里附近有 _____ 吗？
|這裡附近有 _____ 嗎？
|Zhèlǐ fùjìn yǒu _____ ma?
If you’re not sure if there is something nearby and want to ask someone, you can use this question pattern. For example, you could ask: 这里附近有公共厕所吗？(Is there a public restroom nearby?) The word “附近” means “nearby” and is useful to know when it comes to directions. Another example using this sentence pattern might be: 这里附近有麦当劳吗？(Is there a McDonald’s nearby?)
8- How far is _____ from here?
|_____ lí zhèlǐ duō yuǎn?
This question pattern will be helpful if you want to check how far away something is from where you are at that moment. Just fill in the blank with whatever location you’d like to inquire about. For example: 捷运站离这里多远？(How far is the subway station from here?)
Asking Directions in Chinese: Useful Places and Landmarks in Chinese
Below are some places and landmarks that you might want to insert into the question patterns above. You might also hear these when receiving directions.
Understanding Directions in Chinese: Useful Words and Phrases
Of course, besides asking for directions, you’ll also need to understand the directions that you receive in Chinese! Below is a list of some landmarks in Chinese that you might hear when receiving directions from someone. You could also use these places when asking for directions.
|continue / keep
To help you prepare for understanding directions in Chinese, here are a few examples of directions:
1- Keep walking straight, and you’ll see it.
|Yīzhí zhí zǒu, nǐ jiù huì kàn dàole.
2- The Royal Hotel is on Zhongxiao East Road.
|Huángjiā dà fàndiàn zài zhōngxiào dōng lùshàng.
3- Keep walking, and turn right at the next intersection.
|Yīzhí zǒu, dào qiánmiàn de lùkǒu yòu zhuǎn.
4- Drive that way, go past two lights and then turn left.
|Wǎng nà biān kāi,guò liǎng gè hónglǜdēng zài zuǒ zhuǎn.
5- The nearest convenience store is next to the police station.
|Zuìjìn de biànlì shāngdiàn zài jǐngchá jú pángbiān.
6- The aquarium is a bit far from here. You may need to take a bus or taxi.
|Shuǐzú guǎn lí zhè li yǒudiǎn yuǎn. Nǐ kěnéng xūyào dā gōngchē huò jìchéngchē.
Learning how to ask for and understand directions is an important skill to have, whether you’re traveling or living in a Chinese-speaking place. The vocabulary and sentence patterns above should help you get started asking and receiving directions in Chinese. To learn more and speak Chinese better, sign up on Glossika and get 1000 reps of Chinese audio training for free:
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