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How to Ask for Directions in Chinese?
Asking for Directions in Chinese on the street or while travelling is one of the best ways to learn and speak Mandarin. Even if you have an excellent sense of direction, you can always pretend not knowing the way and ask people on the street.
The other advantage is even if you speak incorrectly or the other party does not understand what you are trying to ask, you will not feel embarrassed because they do not know you. Try asking for directions in Chinese the next time and see if someone understand your question and whether you get their instructions.
I will not let that happen to you because asking for directions in Chinese is easy. You only ask a sentence to get a reply. The most challenging part is always receiving the answer as the reply can be lengthy if the direction is complicated. So, the best way to practice your listening is to select a location that you know well in advance.
Therefore, if you only understand half of what the other party says, you can make out of the sentence more easily since you already know the way by heart. This method was what I used when learning other foreign languages – French and Dutch.
Many people do not grasp my pronunciation at first because I do not utter them clearly as I should. When they finally understood what I asked, I could not comprehend their explanation due to a limitation of vocabulary.
Because of my foreign language learning journey, more variety of phrases are needed for learning to anticipate what the other person is going to ask you.
20 Chinese Direction Words
There is another post written separately on Giving Directions in Chinese providing a thorough list of more than 60 related Chinese phrases. The reason for splitting up the subject is to provide abundant illustrations so that you have a better grasp on the topic in detail.
|Where||在哪儿，在哪里||Zài nǎ’er, Zài nǎlǐ|
|How to go / walk||怎么去，怎么走||Zěnme qù, Zěnme zǒu|
|Distance away from here||离这里||Lí zhèlǐ|
|Near, Very near||近，很近||Jìn, Hěn jìn|
|Far, Very far||远，很远||Yuǎn, Hěn yuǎn|
|Towards, To||向，朝，往||Xiàng, Cháo, Wǎng|
|ATM Machine||提款机||Tí kuǎn jī|
|Police Station||警察局||Jǐngchá jú|
|Train Station||火车站||Huǒchē zhàn|
|Subway Metro Station||地铁站||Dìtiě zhàn|
|Take a taxi||搭德士，搭的士，坐计程，乘坐出租车||Dā dé shì, Dā dí shì, Zuò jì chéng, Chéngzuò chūzū chē|
Asking for Directions in Chinese
Here are some examples of asking for directions in Chinese. Of course, there is more than one way to ask for directions in Mandarin. Hence, I am giving you as many examples as possible so you can practice and understand the questions better when someone asks for directions.
As a polite form of asking someone you do not know, it is always courteous to start the sentence with:-
Excuse me, … 不好意思，。。。Bù hǎoyìsi, …
- May I ask … 请问 。。。 Qǐngwèn …
- Please tell me … 请你告诉我。。。 Qǐng nǐ gàosù wǒ …
It is not necessary to address the person as Mr 先生 Xiānshēng or Miss 小姐 Xiǎojiě though it is always nice to do so.
Excuse me, Sir, may I know where the city centre is?
Bù hǎo yì si. Xiān shēng, qǐng wèn shì zhōng xīn zài nǎ lǐ?
May I know how to go to the supermarket?
Qǐng wèn chāo jí shì chǎng zěn me qù?
Do you know where the ATM Machine is?
Qǐng wèn nǐ zhī dào tí kuǎn jī zài nǎ’er ma?
Is there any bank nearby?
Qǐng wèn zhè lǐ fù jìn yǒu yín háng ma?
How can I walk to the train station?
Qǐng wèn wǒ yào zěn me zǒu qù huǒ chē zhàn?
Is the nearest subway metro station very far away from here?
Qǐng wèn zuì jìn dì tiě zhàn lí zhè lǐ hěn yuǎn ma?
Please tell me how to go to this place? (Pointing to a location on the map or paper)
Qǐng nǐ gào sù wǒ, zhè ge dì fāng zěn me qù?
Can you please tell me which direction should I walk to the hospital?
Qǐng nǐ gào sù wǒ, yī yuàn wǎng nǎ ge fāng xiàng zǒu?
Please tell me is this the direction to the Police Station?
Qǐng gào sù wǒ, jǐng chá jú shì bù shì cháo zhè ge fāng xiàng zǒu?
Please tell me where I should take a cab?
Qǐng gào sù wǒ, wǒ yào zài nǎ lǐ dā dé shì?
Asking for Directions in Chinese is not difficult, right? That is the end of the lesson. Go on and read the next article on Giving Directions which is more difficult than asking for directions in Chinese.
You may also like to read the first part of Mandarin Directions I – How to Say “North, South, East, West” in Chinese? The lesson also contains useful Chinese phrases relating to geographical directions.