November 13, 2007

#01-036: Giving Directions - Advanced Vocabulary

map of a location that illustrates the dialogue
Part of Shenzhen's Luohu District, marked for this lesson

Note: Most English learners know "go straight" and "turn left." In this lesson we'll learn some advanced vocabulary for giving directions. (This lesson was written when I lived in Shenzhen, China, but it should work anywhere!)

Get Ready: Think of two places you know, like your house, and your school or work. Tell someone how to get from one to the other.

[Bob calls Heather on his mobile]

Bob: Hey, Heather, how do I get to Shenzhen Reservoir?

Heather: Where are you now?

Bob: I'm just around the corner from the Chang'an Hotel.

Heather: Are you on Wenjin Lu?

Bob: Yeah, south of the gas station. I can see a sculpture kitty-corner from me.

Heather: OK, head up Wenjin and veer right at the Y-intersection of Aiguo Road.

Bob: How far to the Y?

Heather: It's one long block. There are a couple of T-intersections along the way, where little streets dead-end into Wenjin. Once you're on Aiguo, keep going. The reservoir is straight ahead.

Here are some of the terms Bob and Heather used:

  1. around the corner from: We often hear "on the corner" or "at the corner." "Around the corner" is a little different. The Science Museum (Ke Xue Guan) is around the corner from the Metro exit; that is, the exit is on Shennan, and the museum is on Shangbu Lu.
  2. kitty-corner: sometimes "cater-corner." If you are on the southwest corner, the northeast corner is "kitty-corner" from you.
  3. head: We often use this instead of "go."
  4. veer: The intersection at Wenjin and Aiguo isn't a 90-degree corner (a right angle). So when you get to it, you don't really turn, you sort of just adjust your course a little. A similar term is to "angle towards or away from" something. You can say that a bus was veering toward you or angling toward you, deviating from his path. Whichever you use, you'd better move!
  5. Y-intersection: Where three streets meet, and none is at a right angle. Shenzhen has lots of these; Wenjin and Aiguo (where the giant harp is) is a good example.
  6. long block: You may have learned about "blocks" in a directions lesson. When Heather says a "long block," she means don't count the little streets. If you are in central Shenzhen, from Shennan to Hongli is a "long block."
  7. T-intersection and dead-end: Where two streets meet in a T-shape, one of them "dead-ends" into the other; that is, it doesn't continue, it ends there. This is a verb usage. As a noun, however, it usually indicates that the road ends with no alternatives; another word for this is "cul-de-sac." When I was a boy, we played ball in a dead-end near our house, because it had little traffic.


Read more:

Practice: Look at the picture below. Match the illustrations to the descriptions above. One description will not be used.

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for November 13, 2007

This lesson received 842 visits on my old site between January, 2012, and June, 2021.

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