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Consider:

I live off Downing Street.

I live down Downing Street.

I live along Downing Street.

I live up Downing Street.

Are these sentences all acceptable? If so, do they mean exactly the same thing? That is, you walk along the street and you'll find my house on either side of the street.

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Broadly, they all mean that you live at the place that links to Downing St. –  Maulik V Mar 16 at 7:29
    
So what kind of link will it be? several blocks away or what? –  Zhanlong Zheng Mar 16 at 7:33

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I think they all mean roughly the same thing – if you told me one of these statements, I'd expect your address to be something like 1427 Downing Street (or someplace near that) – but there might be some contextual differences in when you would say them.

First off, I don't think any of the four would be my choice of preposition if someone asked me where I live. Instead, I'd usually say:

I live on Downing Street.

or, if I was giving the exact address:

I live at 1427 Downing Street.

However, some of the prepositions you mention are often given when people provide directions. Consider the map below:

map

Let's also assume Pace St. is a fairly well-known location – if you and I were in a conversation, we'd both probably know where that road is, and how to get to it. With that in mind, here are some questions you might ask, and how I might answer them:

Where do your kids go to school?
At the Goddard School.
Oh, where's that?
The Goddard School is off of Pace Street.

Actually, the school is on Olympia Ave, but I'm guessing that, if you knew where Olympia Avenue was, you wouldn't have asked me where the school is. So I use off to tell you a major road that the school is near.

Where is your Graphics shop?
It's on Santa Fe Drive.
Hmm, I don't know where that is.
Santa Fe Drive runs along the river.

Directionally, along usually means roughly parallel with. (I could have also said, "The river runs along Santa Fe Drive.")

Now, let's pretend I live where the orange square is, and my friend Monica lives where the blue square is.

Where do you live?
I live on Calais Drive.
Isn't that close to where Monica lives?
Yes, Monica lives just up the road from me.

When giving directions, up and down might be roughly synonymous, and they don't necessarily connote hills. I could have just as easily said down instead of up. In fact, one could even argue that up means "further down the road," and down means "further up the road."

These adjectives are flexible, and can be used in ways other than those I've described here. But I've tried to at least point out some of the subtle differences. I would not say that the school is along Pace Street, but I might say it's down Olympia Avenue.

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Thx, you map might lack a hyperlink there. Plz add it. I can imagine what you are saying. –  Zhanlong Zheng Mar 16 at 11:05
    
The map was a random map I picked off of Google maps. It's a neighborhood near Denver, CO. I added the red circles and colored squares. –  J.R. Mar 16 at 11:09

They mean that your home is linked to Downing Street one or the other way.

  • I live off Downing Street - Your home is on the road that's a bit away from Downing Street (I think it's also used when your house is on the road that is parallel to Downing Street).
  • I live down Downing Street - Your home is at some lower position of Downing Street.
  • I live along Downing Street - Your home is on a line or course parallel and close to Downing Street.
  • I live up Downing Street - opposite to down i.e. Your home is at some upper position of Downing Street.

Please note: Each of those preposition words mean several things. For instance, in walking down the street, the down refers to in a descending direction along, upon, into, or through the street.

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Do you mean my house couldn't stand on either side of Downing Street, and I couldn't walk along it and find my house; rather, I still need to get away from Downing Street to find my house, right? Is this the same for all of these examples above? –  Zhanlong Zheng Mar 16 at 10:02
    
@ZhanlongZheng in each sentence, the position of your house is changed. Of course, the house will be on the side of the street, won't it be? You will certainly find your house on either side (because we are not concerned about the this/that side of the road). Yes, in case if your house is off the road, you'll have to find it a bit as it means away from the road. –  Maulik V Mar 16 at 10:35
    
Perhaps I put it in a wrong way. Is it that the position of my house is not on Downing Street for each of these sentences? –  Zhanlong Zheng Mar 16 at 10:49
    
@ZhanlongZheng Yes, for that off Downing Street it is not. Rest of those indicate that your house is on the street. –  Maulik V Mar 16 at 10:56
    
OK, suppose I living on a street vertical to Downing Street, Is it OK to say that I live off Downing Street? –  Zhanlong Zheng Mar 16 at 11:02

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