How to Tell Direction in Chinese?

Have you ever wondered how big China is or how to get about once you're there? There are a plethora of options for getting around China. You may take a cab, ride a subway, ride a sharing bicycle, or use apps like DiDi to move across town with a single click.

But here is the problem, what do you say to the driver while you're on your mode of transportation? How do you give your driver directions?

That is what we are going to talk about today in this essay. How to communicate instructions in Chinese. It may appear complicated at first but give it a shot and you'll be up and running in no time.


Before we go into how to give direction in complete sentences, let us learn how to say the words in Chinese first.

Vocabulary

  • 上面 (shàng miàn) = Above / Over
  • 旁边 (Páng biān) = Beside / Next to
  • 过后 (guò hòu) = After
  • 中间 (zhōng jiān) = Between / Middle
  • 周围 (Zhōu wéi) = Around
  • 四处寻 (Sìchù xún) = Look around
  • 远 (yuǎn) = Far
  • 之前 (zhī qián) = Before
  • 前面 (qián miàn) = Front / Forward / Ahead
  • 一开始 (yī kāi shǐ) = Beginning
  • 里面 (lǐ miàn) = In / Inside
  • 后面 (hòu miàn) = Behind
  • 附近 (fù jìn) = Near
  • 下面 (xià miàn) = Below / Bottom / Down
  • 外面 (wài miàn) = Out / Outside

Direction

  • 北边 (běi bian) = North
  • 南边 (nán bian) = South
  • 东边 (Dōng bian) = East
  • 西边 (xī bian) = West
  • 左边 (zuǒ biān) = Left
  • 右边 (yòu biān) = Right
  • 向前 (xiàng qián) or 前往 (qián wǎng) = Go
  • 继续 (jì xù) = Continue
  • 退后 (tuì hòu) / 往后 (wǎng hòu) = Reverse
  • 停止(tíng zhǐ) / 停车(tíng chē) = Stop
  • 目的地 (Mùdì de) = Destination

Location

  • 环形交叉路 (Huán xíng jiāo chā lù) = Roundabout
  • 红绿灯 (Hóng lǜ dēng) = Traffic light
  • T 字路口 (T zì lù kǒu) = T Junctions
  • 停车场 (tíng chē chǎng) = Carpark
  • 高速公路 (gāo sù gong lù) or 高速 (gāo sù) = Highway
  • 路边 (lù biān) = Roadside
  • 天桥 (tiān qiáo) = Overhead bridge
  • 一栋楼 (yī dòng lóu) = Building
  • A 楼 (A lóu) = Building A
  • 十字路口 (shí zì lù kǒu) = Intersection
  • 进口 (jìn kǒu) = Entrance
  • 出口 (chū kǒu) = Exit

Learn With Examples

After you have mastered each individual word and their meaning, let us look into how to construct simple instructions for your driver.

往直走直到前面的红绿灯。(Wǎng zhí zǒu zhí dào qián miàn de hóng lǜ dēng.)
Go along the street until you reach the traffic lights.

你会在你的左边看到银行。(Nǐ huì zài nǐ de zuǒ biān kàn dào yín háng.)
You’ll see the bank on the left.

我的目的地从这里就差两栋楼的距离。(Wǒ de mù dì de cóng zhè lǐ jiù chà liǎng dòng lóu de jù lí.)
It’s about two blocks from here.

我建议使用高速公路去到飞机场,因为时间方面显得比较快。(Wǒ jiàn yì shǐ yòng gāo sù gong lù qù dào fēi jī chǎng, yīn wéi shí jiān fang miàn xiǎn dé bǐ jiào kuài.)
I prefer going to the airport on the highway because it’s faster.

直走,走到经过电影院。(Zǒu zhí, zhí dào jīng guò diàn yǐng yuàn.)
Go straight, Go past the cinema

在十字路口转左。(Zài shí zì lù kǒu zhuǎn zuǒ.)
Turn left at the intersection.

就在你右边。(Jiù zài nǐ yòu biān.)
It’s on your right.

你走错路了。(Nǐ zǒu cuò lù le.)
You are going the wrong way.

请在这里停车。(Qǐng zài zhè lǐ tíng chē.)
Please stop here.

请在下一个路口转右。(Qǐng zài xià yī gè lù kǒu zhuǎn yòu.)
Turn right on the next corner.

我迷路了。(Wǒ mí lù le.)
I’ve lost my way.

周围人排队为了定晚上的音乐会。(Zhōuwéi rén páiduì wèile dìng wǎnshàng de yīnyuè huì)
People are queuing up around for the evening concert.

记住四处寻。(Jì zhù sìchù xún)
Remember to look around.


Learn with dialogues

Here is a simple dialogue between a person who is taking a practical driving test and the instructor is telling the directions to the learner to assess his practical skills in driving.

考官:请往前直到前面路口的红绿灯。(Qǐng wǎng qián zhí dào qián miàn lù kǒu de hóng lǜ dēng.)
Instructor: Please go straight until you have reached the traffic light at the junction.

考官:你现在的位置是一个十字路口。红绿灯变青了过后,请摆去右边再继续往前走。(Nǐ xiàn zài de wèi zhì shì yī gè shí zì lù kǒu. Hóng lǜ dēng biàn qīng le guò hòu, qǐng bǎi qù yòu biān zài jì xù wǎng qián zǒu.)
Instructor: You are now at an intersections. After the traffic light turns green, please turn to the right, and continue forward.

考官: 前面是一个迂回,请你在第二个出口走出迂回。(Qián miàn shì yī gè yū huí, qǐng nǐ zài dì èr gè chū kǒu zǒu chū yū huí.)
Instructor: There is a roundabout ahead, please take the second exit at the roundabout.

考官:路旁的指示牌显示前面的路暂时无法行通,所以请你把车子在前面的T字路口转左,向前走,进入高速公路。(Lù páng de zhǐ shì pái xiǎn shì qián miàn de lù zhàn shí wú fǎ xíng tōng, suǒ yǐ qǐng nǐ bǎ chē zi zài qián miàn de T zì lù kǒu zhuǎn zuǒ, xiàng qián zǒu, jìn rù gāo sù gong lù.)
Instructor: Please be aware of the sign boards at the side of the road. There is a roadblock ahead. So please turn left at the T junction and continue forward into the highway.

考官:现在,请你在前面的交叉路口,进入超市场的路。(Xiàn zài, qǐng nǐ zài qián miàn de jiāo chā lù kǒu, jìn rù chāo shì chǎng de lù.)
Instructor: Now, please turn at the diverging junction ahead into the road to the supermarket.

考官:好的,现在请在停车场,找一个泊车位,把车子停好。 请你在路旁等一会儿。(Hǎo de, xiàn zài qǐng zài tíng chē chǎng, zhǎo yī gè bó chē wèi, bǎ chē zi tíng hǎo. Qǐng nǐ zài lù páng děng yīhuǐ'er.)
Instructor: Good, now please find a carpark and park your car. Please wait at the roadside for a while.


And there you go, that is how you give directions in Chinese. Although there may be a lot of new words for you, learning it is worth it so you can not only know how to give directions but how to interpret them as well when you hear someone give directions to you.

Good luck in learning these directions!

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