Directions in GermanFree Vocabulary List

01.07.2022

Giving & asking for directions in German is an essential skill for German learners who plan to visit Germany. After you have a grasp of basic German phrases, the most essential idioms and a rough understanding of the rules of German pronunciation, you can quite easily learn the vocabulary needed to give & ask for directions.

Check out this dialogue, for example:

🧑🏻‍🦱Tim
Entschuldigen Sie? Wissen Sie vielleicht wo die U-Bahnstation "Weinmeisterstraße" ist?
👩🏽‍🦱Muriel
Ja, natürlich. Gehen Sie einfach weiter geradeaus und dann gleich rechts. Sie müssen dann noch einmal rechts und dann sehen Sie die Station auch schon.
🧑🏻‍🦱Tim
Vielen Dank! Einen schönen Tag noch!

In this dialogue, Tim is asking a passerby for directions to the U-Bahnstation (subway station) "Weinmeisterstraße" (that's a tube station here in Berlin). Muriel then gives him directions on how to get there.

As you can see, there are a few skills involved here: First, you need to know how to ask questions in German. But then you will also need to know the necessary vocabulary to understand the answer and follow the directions given to you, which includes adverbials of direction & movement, adverbs of time and nouns around the city. Let's do this!

How to Ask for Directions

When asking for directions in German, it can be helpful to provide details about where you are starting and where you are going. For example, you can use the phrase “Ich bin an der xxx und ich will zur xxx.” (I am at xxx and I want to go to xxx). This will help the person giving directions understand your situation better.

Another useful tip is to be polite and friendly when asking for directions. You can start by saying “Entschuldigen Sie” (Excuse me) or “Können Sie mir helfen?” (Can you help me?).

Excuse me ... ?

GermanEnglish
Entschuldigen Sie?Excuse me?
Wissen Sie wo ... ist?Do you know where ... is?
Können Sie mir den Weg zu ... zeigen?Can you tell me the way to ...?
Können Sie mir helfen?Can you help me?
Wo ist ...?Where is ...?
Wohin soll ich gehen?Where should I go?
Ich suche ...I'm looking for ...

The next word list is helpful when you are trying to navigate a place or a city in German.

GermanEnglish
die Straßestreet
der Platzsquare
die Brückebridge
der Bahnhoftrain station
die U-Bahnstationsubway station
der Busbahnhofbus station
die Richtungdirection
die Kreuzungjunction
die Autobahnhighway
der Ausfahrtexit

How to Give Directions

Adverbs of Direction

German adverbs of direction are words that indicate the direction in which an action is taking place. They can also indicate the direction in which someone or something is moving or facing.

Here is a list of the most important ones:

GermanEnglish
linksleft
rechtsright
geradeausstraight
hochup
runterdown
in der Nähenear

Here's an example sentence using some of these words:

Du musst jetzt hier rechts abbiegen und dann immer weiter geradeaus fahren. Dann sofort links, und dann siehst du die Parkplätze des Museums.

Compass Directions

Apart from the standard directional adverbs used when navigating a city (like "right" & "left"), it can also sometimes be useful to know the points of the compass in German:

GermanEnglish
nördlichnorth
südlichsouth
östlicheast
westlichwest

You could, for example, say:

Das Museum ist nördlich von hier. Daher müssen wir mit der U-Bahn Richtung Norden fahren.

Directional Verbs

GermanEnglish
abbiegento turn
gehento go
fahrento drive
laufento walk
nehmento take
zurückgehento go back
GermanEnglish
einen Umweg machento take a detour
die U-Bahn nehmento take the subway
den Bus nehmento take a bus
ein Taxi nehmento take a taxi

When giving directions in German, it can be helpful to think about the route you are describing. Try to be as detailed as possible, including landmarks and street names, to ensure that the person asking for directions can easily find their way.

It can also be helpful to give an estimated time frame for how long the route should take. For example, you can say “Gehen Sie 10 Minuten geradeaus und Sie sind da.” (Walk straight for 10 minutes and you will be there).

Finally, it is important to be polite and patient when giving directions. Asking the person if they understand your directions and repeating your instructions if necessary will help ensure that they arrive at their destination safely.

Conclusion

Asking for and giving directions in German can be a tricky task, but with the right vocabulary and useful tips, it can be made easier. We hope this blog post has provided you with the tools you need to navigate your way around German-speaking countries with ease.

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