How to Give and Receive Accurate Directions in Spanish
Have you ever gotten lost while traveling around a city or country?
Oh yeah, losing yourself in the new sights and sounds can definitely be an exciting way to explore!
But when you’re ready to get back to your comfy hotel bed, it can be a legit challenge to find your way—especially when there’s a language barrier to contend with.
Luckily, this is an easy problem to remedy if you’re traveling to a Spanish-speaking country. Learning how to talk about directions in Spanish is relatively simple.
With a little time and effort, you can learn to ask for (and give) directions in Spanish like you live in the neighborhood.
If you’re planning on traveling to a Spanish-speaking country, you should absolutely take the time to review how to ask for and give directions in Spanish. You’ll thank yourself the first time you get lost—and even if you do have a map or smartphone to guide you, asking for directions is a great way to practice Spanish with locals!
And even if you don’t have any traveling on your horizon, asking and giving directions in Spanish is still a practical skill that’s worth learning. Read on for vocabulary, useful phrases and practice suggestions.
Why It’s Important to Learn Spanish Directions
Learning how to ask for and give directions in Spanish is way more useful than you may think.
Traveling in a Spanish-speaking country? Asking for directions is probably one of the most frequent conversations you’ll have to have in Spanish! (Especially if you happen to be bad with a map, like me.)
And it’s not just important to know how to ask for directions—if you can’t understand the response, you’ll be just as lost! Knowing the vocabulary and grammatical structures in this article could make the difference between finding your destination and being hopelessly lost on vacation.
Plus, learning about directions is great because it allows you to practice lots of new vocabulary, and it forces you to pay attention to tricky prepositions and verb conjugations in the command form. We’ve broken up the following vocabulary list into nouns, adjectives, verbs and prepositions.
How to Give and Receive Accurate Directions in Spanish
50 Key Vocabulary Words for Directions in Spanish
This vocabulary list contains dozens of the most useful words related to Spanish directions. Click on each word to hear its pronunciation!
- La avenida — Avenue
- La calle — Street
- La carretera — Highwayo
- El callejón — Alleyway
- La peatonal — Pedestrian street
- El puente — Bridge
- La rotonda — Roundabout
- El mapa — Map
- El semáforo — Stoplight
- El paso de peatones — Crosswalk
- La dirección — Address
- Las direcciones — Directions
- La milla — Mile
- El kilómetro — Kilometer
- La derecha —The right (hand/side)
- La izquierda — The left (hand/side)
- Derecho/a — Right
- Izquierdo/a — Left
- Próximo/a — Next
- Primero/a — First
- Segundo/a — Second
- Tercero/a — Third
- Cerca — Near
- Lejos — Far
- Perdido/a — Lost
- Hasta — Until
- Adelante — Forward
- Delante de — In front of
- Detrás de — Behind
- Al lado de — Next to
- En frente de — Across from
- Ir — To go
- Seguir — To follow, to continue
- Pasar — To pass
- Parar — To stop
- Cruzar — To cross
- Caminar — To walk
How to Use the Command Form to Give Directions in Spanish
What good are these verbs if you can’t conjugate them?
When you give Spanish directions, you’ll most likely be using the mandato (command) verb form. Fear not—Spanish commands are simple to conjugate and have very few irregularities!
Here’s a quick refresher for those of you who have already learned commands:
There are four basic command forms:
- the tú (informal singular) form
- the usted (formal singular) form
- the vosotros (informal plural) form
- the ustedes (formal plural) form
Remember that vosotros is only used in Spain; in Latin America, use ustedes to speak to any group of people, regardless of the formality of the situation.
When giving directions, you’ll probably only give affirmative commands (i.e. telling people what to do), so that’s all we’re going to review here.
Commands in the tú form are the same as the él/ella/usted form of the present simple.
Comer (to eat) — ¡Come! (Eat!)
Caminar (to walk) — ¡Camina! (Walk!)
Abrir (to open) — ¡Abre! (Open!)
To form commands in the vosotros form, simply remove the r at the end of the infinitive and add a d.
Comer (to eat) — ¡Comed! (Eat!)
Caminar (to walk) — ¡Caminad! (Walk!)
Abrir (to open) — ¡Abrid! (Open!)
Commands in the usted form are the same as the él/ella/usted form of the present subjunctive.
Comer (to eat) — ¡Coma! (Eat!)
Caminar (to walk) — ¡Camine! (Walk!)
Abrir (to open) — ¡Abra! (Open!)
To form commands in the ustedes form, use the ellos/ellas/ustedes form of the present subjunctive.
Comer (to eat) — ¡Coman! (Eat!)
Caminar (to walk) — ¡Caminen! (Walk!)
Abrir (to open) — ¡Abran! (Open!)
Quick tip: All of the verbs on this article’s verb list are regular in the command form, except for ir. Its tú form is ve, its usted form is vaya, its vosotros form is id and its ustedes form is vayan.
14 Key Phrases for Giving and Receiving Directions in Spanish
Now that we’ve gone over useful vocabulary words and reviewed verb conjugations, let’s practice putting it all together to form some key direction-related phrases.
Asking for Directions
Estoy perdido/a. — I’m lost.
Disculpe, estoy perdida. ¿Me puedes ayudar?
Excuse me, I’m lost. Can you help me?
Dónde está… — Where is…
¿Dónde está el parque de Retiro?
Where is Retiro Park?
Estoy buscando… — I’m looking for…
Estoy buscando la calle Flores.
I’m looking for Flower Street.
¿Hay un/una _____ por aquí? — Is there a(n) _____ around here?
Hay un buen restaurante por aquí?
Is there a good restaurant around here?
¿Está cerca/lejos? — Is it close/far away?
¿Está lejos la avenida 9 de Julio?
Is July 9th Avenue far away?
Sigue recto. — Continue straight.
Sigue recto hasta el semáforo.
Continue straight until the stoplight.
Sigue la calle _____. — Follow _____ Street.
You can, of course, replace calle for other similar words like avenida (avenue), carretera (highway), callejón (alleyway) or puente (bridge). Remember that in Spanish, unlike in English, words like these generally come before the street name, rather than after.
For example, if a street were called Chile Street in English, it’d be called calle Chile in Spanish.
Sigue la avenida de España.
Follow Spain Avenue.
Gira/dobla a la derecha/izquierda. — Turn left/right.
Cuando llegues al parque, gira a la derecha.
When you arrive at the park, turn right.
Ve/camina/conduce hasta _____. — Go/walk/drive until the _____.
Camina hasta el gimnasio y gira a la izquierda.
Walk until the gym and turn left.
Toma la primera derecha/izquierda. — Take the first right/left.
Of course, you can also substitute primera (first) for segunda (second) or tercera (third) based on your needs.
Sigue recto, y toma la segunda izquierda.
Continue straight, and take the second left.
Está a la derecha/izquierda. — It’s on the right/left.
El banco está en la calle principal. Está a la derecha.
The bank is on Main Street. It’s on the right.
Está al lado de _____. — It’s next to _____.
“Está + a preposition + a place” is a formula that you can use to describe the location of something relative to another location.
Mi casa está en frente de la escuela.
My house is across from the school.
Está a _____ minutos. — It’s _____ minutes away.
No está lejos. Está a diez minutos caminando.
It’s not far. It’s ten minutes away on foot.
Está a _____ cuadras/manzanas/millas/kilómetros. — It’s _____ blocks/miles/kilometers away.
Tendrás que conducir al restaurante. Está a cinco kilómetros de aquí.
You’ll have to drive to the restaurant. It’s five kilometers from here.
Practice Suggestions for Learning All Your Spanish Directions
Here are three easy, do-it-yourself exercises to learn Spanish directions or simply to refresh your memory.
Writing practice: This exercise will help you focus on learning and memorizing all of the vocabulary words related to Spanish directions. It’s simple: choose two locations in your neighborhood or city, and write how to get from one to the other.
Speaking/listening practice: Prefer to practice with a friend? This exercise is perfect for you! Find a practice buddy and a map. Choose a starting point on your map and mark it with a dot. Then, without telling your friend what it is, choose an endpoint. Describe to your friend, in as much detail as possible, how to get from the start to the end. Switch off to practice both speaking and listening.
Comprehension practice: These days, we’re increasingly dependent on our smartphones to get us from Point A to Point B. (I know I am.) Feeling confident in your Spanish abilities? Switch your phone into Spanish when using your maps app. You can practice your reading comprehension with walking directions and switch on navigation to practice listening comprehension during car trips.
Hopefully, these vocabulary words and simple phrases will help you feel less lost when asking for Spanish directions.
As with anything else, the best way to become an expert on Spanish directions is to practice. So, sit down with a map or get out on the street, and start using what you’ve learned!
Hasta la proxima! Pura Vida