I’m a very oriented guy. Whenever I travel with a group of friends, I'm always the one they talk to when they’re starting to feel lost. Most of the time, I can orient myself in the right way, but sometimes (are than I would like), I find myself in need of help. The last time I visited Spain, I was looking for a particular restaurant, and for some reason, I kept getting lost in the tangling web of streets of Barcelona.
I was running out of time, as my reservation for that restaurant that I had made months in advance would only hold for 30 minutes, and I had no clue on how to get there. Luckily, I went prepared with some vocabulary, and I was able to ask a local for directions in Spanish and got there just in time! Speaking Spanish was a tool that I am glad I had.
Knowing how to greet people and give directions in Spanish is very important and, most of all, useful in situations like this one. So, are you going to a Spanish-speaking country and want to know how to approach a local and understand his directions? Keep reading this, then!
Location in Spanish can be translated as localización or sitio. There are lots of words you can use to express the location of something, but normally, these words are used to describe where something is in relation to something else because you can’t give a direction without first having a reference point. Sounds confusing? Let’s break it down even more then.
Like in many other languages, locations are expressed in Spanish through the use of prepositions (preposiciónes). These are words that are attached to nouns or pronouns and describe the relation of these words with the world. Let’s explore some of these.
The first word you need to know is de, which can mean “of,” “from,” “to,” “in,” “with,” or “in” and is used to describe the relationship between the location proposition and the noun or pronoun. It is usually combined with other prepositions to describe locations. For example. If you want to say that something is on top of something else, you’d say encima de (on top of).
When giving directions, you may follow by saying if something is close (en cerca de) or far (legos de) from something else. Notice how the word de is used as “to” when saying something is close and as “from” when saying something is far away.
The word “inside” is also very useful, and in Spanish, you’d say dentro de, so for example, if you want to ask if the ticket office of the museum is inside the building, you’d say ¿La taquilla está dentro del edificio? (Is the ticket office inside the building?). On the other hand, the word for “outside” is fuera de. Similarly if you want to say that something is on the side of something else, you say al lado de.
Other useful prepositions in giving Spanish directions are listed in the table below.
|dentro de||Inside of|
|encima de/sobre||On top of|
|debajo de||Underneath of|
|delante de||In front of|
|dentro de||Inside of|
|fuera de||Outside of|
|en medio de||In the middle of|
|cerca de||Close to|
|lejos de||Far from|
|al lado de||Next to|
|a la izquierda de||To the left of|
|a la derecha de||To the right of|
|en la esquina de||In the corner of|
Let’s start with the basics, in Spanish left is ezquierda and right is derecha, while up is arriba, and down is abajo. With these words, you can point in your direction and understand where you’re supposed to go.
Additionally to prepositions, there are also some verbs that are useful when describing a location in Spanish.
Putting it all together, if you wanted to say, “Walk inside and turn right,” you’d say Entra y gira a la derecha. Another common phrase is simply asking where something is. In that case we use the verb "to be" (estar) to ask where something is - ¿Dónde está la salida? (Where is the exit?).
Cardinal directions can also be useful in Spanish directions where North is Norte, South is Sur, West is Oeste, and East is Este. Now that we can say where something is, it is time to learn new vocabulary to help us navigate Spanish streets.
When giving directions in Spanish, we can also use landmarks as references for our instructions. For example, we can say the bus station is in front of the mall by saying La estación de autobuses está frente al centro comercial. To be able to do this is important to know how to say specific places and landmarks.
|El camellón||Median Strip|
|El semáforo||Traffic Light|
|La taquilla||Ticket Office|
|En la ciudad||In the city|
|Estación de tren||train station|
|Estación de metro||subway station|
|Parada de autobús||bus stop|
|Centro de la ciudad||city center|
Taking into account all the vocabulary we’ve learned, let’s look at some examples of useful phrases that you might want to memorize when giving directions in Spanish.
|¿Dónde esta el museo?||Where is the museum?|
|Busco la estación del metro más cercana.||I’m looking for the closest metro station|
|Mi amigo vive en la esquina de Rua Mallorca con Rua Principal.||My friend lives in the corner of Rua Mallorca with Rua Principal|
|¿Qué tan lejos está el hotel?||How far is the hotel?|
|Sigue recto y gira en la primera calle a la derecha.||Go straight and turn on the first street on the right|
|El bar está encima del restaurante.||The bar is above the restaurant|
|Sigue esta carretera hacia el norte y llegarás al casco antiguo.||Follow this road North and you'll reach the old town|
|Estoy perdido.||I am lost|
|¿Puedes decirme dónde está esta dirección?||Can you tell me where this address is?|
|La tienda está dentro del centro comercial.||The store is inside the mall|
|¿Hay un hospital cerca de aquí?||Is there a hospital around here?|
|¿Cuál es la mejor forma de ir a…?||What is the best way to go to…?|
|¿Lo puedes repetir, por favor?||Can you repeat that, please?|
|¿Puedes hablar más despacio, por favor?||Can you please speak slower, please?|
|Gracias por tu ayuda.||Thank you for your help|
|El baño está en la esquina.||The bathroom is in the corner|
Well, after this extensive explication about how to give directions in Spanish, you’re ready to become your friend’s group “Dora La Exploradora” and take them everywhere without getting lost. Even if by chance you get lost, you learned everything you need to know to ask for directions and get on the right track again!
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