Learning to speak English? Our Everyday Conversations help you practice. Click the audio link to hear a native speaker pronounce each word while you read. Key terms are explained, in your language, at the end of each conversation. Today’s conversation is about asking for directions.
Mark: Excuse me. Could you tell me where the library is?
Nancy: Yes, it’s that way. You go three blocks to Washington Street, then turn right. It’s on the corner, across from the bank.
Mark: Thanks! I’ve only been in town a few days, so I really don’t know my way around yet.
Nancy: Oh, I know how you feel. We moved here a year ago, and I still don’t know where everything is!
- Could you tell me…is slightly more polite than “Can you tell me…?”
- Could you tell me where the library is? Notice that “library” is stressed here because it is the word with the important information. This is an indirect question, so the subject (the library) comes before the verb (is). The word order is reversed in a direct question (Where is the library?).
- Yes, it’s that way. Notice the stress on “that.” The speaker is pointing in a certain direction and wants to emphasize that direction.
- I know how you feel is a way of saying “I understand.” Notice the emphasis on “feel.” The speaker wants to show empathy and understanding.
- I still don’t know where everything is! Notice the word order of “where everything is.” The subject (everything) comes before the verb (is). This word order is different from the direct question (Where is everything?).
Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help. And the U.S. Department of State has great resources for English teachers and students of all levels.