I’m not sure how to use this expression. Does it count the current block (inclusively)? Does it count the block it is in? I have two sentences:

it’s two blocks down the street.

it’s two blocks away.

Where is that place compared to current block?

  • 4
    To this US English speaker, it's not that precise. It just means "more than one block, but less than three". If someone said something was "two blocks away", I would expect to have to cross two streets to get there.
    – stangdon
    May 9 '18 at 14:50
  • @stangdon so it means next 2 blocks. But are “down the street” and “away” different?
    – user67265
    May 9 '18 at 14:58
  • "Down the street" implies that the place is on the same street we are on. "Two blocks away" could mean it's around a corner, though, and not necessarily on the same street.
    – stangdon
    May 9 '18 at 15:55

"Blocks" are an imprecise measure of distance, mostly used in downtown areas where streets are mostly arranged in a rectangular grid. In particular it refers to Manhattan Distance (or, perhaps the other way around). Because it is so imprecise, different people could describe the same distance with different numbers but most of the time they will end up within one block of each other.

With regards to "away" versus "down the street", "[distance] away" is a common construction in English that contains no information about direction, though measuring in Blocks usually implies that the distance is a Manhattan Distance and that it's along the surface of the Earth rather than up or down. "[Distance] down the street" restricts the direction somewhat, heavily implying that the destination shares at least one adjacent street with the reference location (usually "here"). That is not to be confused with a similar phrase "Just down the street," which is even more imprecise and often used figuratively to simply express "close by".

In terms of "Does it include the current block" and "Does it include the destination block", those are some primary sources of the imprecision, and thus depend on who you ask. There aren't (to my knowledge as a native speaker who uses such measurements) any "official" rules about such a thing, nor any group likely to punish someone for using them "incorrectly". I wouldn't recommend trying to interpret more precision than was intended in such statements.

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