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What word should I use to tell someone to look straight when they are looking down while driving or while walking around? Would "look up" be okay? What would it be if they are looking right or left?

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    If the driver isn't looking where they're going, "eyes on the road" is pretty common. – snailcar Feb 22 '13 at 16:19
  • It's context dependent. @snailplane gave a good example for drivers; in another context (sports), the phrase "keep your head up" is often used to mean keep your eyes on your surroundings (as opposed to looking down at the ball you are dribbling with your feet, or at the puck you are handling with your stick). – J.R. Feb 22 '13 at 20:06
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    What does “look straight” mean? No native speaker would ever say that, at least, not regarding directions. If you told someone to look straight, they might ask you whether you meant that they should stand up straight, or even whether they had been looking gay to you and so wonder whether you were advising them to not look so gay. I think you must mean to look straight ahead. Just straight by itself doesn’t really work well in this situation. – tchrist Feb 23 '13 at 0:33
  • @tchrist sorry my bad – Dude Feb 23 '13 at 7:04
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The standard expression is:

"Look where you're going!" (where watch and mind are commonly used instead of look)

...which can be applied to someone on foot, cycling, or driving, for example (it's usually preceded by "Why don't you" if they've just bumped in to you or your car).

For a single-word preposition, "Look out!" is normally used when the speaker is aware of some upcoming danger that he thinks his audience hasn't seen.

It's not very common to say "Look up!" (or down, etc.) to indicate the direction of danger. You normally only see that on traffic signs for pedestrians warning them to "Look Left" (or Right) where they're about to step onto the road (the sign indicates which side the prevailing traffic will be approaching from).

  • Many thanks! Is this same as 'look out', 'look around', 'watch out'? – Dude Feb 22 '13 at 16:45
  • @Batman: Usage may vary, but where I come from, "Look around" wouldn't normally be used as a warning to be on the lookout for danger. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 22 '13 at 16:53
  • ok, but the other two are correct right? – Dude Feb 22 '13 at 17:01
  • @Batman: Yes. Look and watch are equivalent in such admonitions, with no real distinction in either meaning, or valid contexts for use. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 22 '13 at 17:36
  • Would not "Look where you are going!" have the effect of making the driver think he is going to cause an accident? – kiamlaluno Feb 22 '13 at 17:43
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Look ahead is the most generic, common phrase I could think of. The real answer is that it depends - or as J.R. commented, it's context dependent (it is English, after all).

  • If the person is looking down, then tell them to look up. (To allay some possible confusion, this (to an English speaking native) would not be a directive to look at the sky.)
  • If they are staring at the sky, tell them to look down. (As with look up, in this context look down would not mean look at the ground)
  • If they are looking to the right or left, tell them to look ahead.
  • If they're staring in the rearview mirror or have twisted around to see what's over their shoulder, tell them to look forward(s).

There are also plenty of expressions that don't use the word 'look'. You could say 'eyes forward', 'watch where you're going', 'watch what you're doing', 'stop shoegazing' (when walking), 'watch the road/traffic (when driving).

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