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I think I hear people mostly use the phrase "going down the street" instead of "going up the street" or "going on the street"

It is common to hear that :

I was going down the street when I saw her

in songs or movies.

I don't think the word down has something do to with a inclination, declination or direction.I feel people use it even they walk on a plain road/street.What exactly does this sentence mean?

So what is the difference between :

I was going on the street when I saw her

and

I was going down the street when I saw her

and

I was going up the street when I saw her

  • There may be no difference at all between "going up the street" and "going down the street." Here's an interesting Ngram. – J.R. Feb 13 '15 at 13:42
  • See also "What does 'back East' mean?", which discusses "up North", "down South", "back East", and "out West" in the contiguous 48 states of the United States. – Jasper Jan 9 '16 at 19:29
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The choice between down and up for street movement is interesting.

If the street is on a hill the usage is obvious.

If the street is on the level it is less so, but there are some rules of thumb that can be applied.

If the city has an acknowledged "uptown" and "downtown" sections, "up the street" usually goes uptown and "down the street" goes downtown.

Sometimes the choice is made based on compass direction- going North might be considered "going up the street" whereas heading South might be considered "going down the street".

Other times it's local convention- however it got established.

And a lot of times it just doesn't matter and either one is perfectly fine.

But you can get a ticket for public indecency if you are caught "going on the street."!

--get more than a ticket, you would become a sex offender Here's a link to a similar question on English Language and Usage: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/83597/up-my-street-and-down-the-lane

  • Thank you for the answer. can I use "on" for pedestrian walkways. – Mrt Feb 12 '15 at 23:00
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    It's not "on" by itself, it's "going on" that will get you in trouble. Yes, you can be on the sidewalk, or on the road, and kids can be playing in the street. It think that's a whole 'nother question. – Jim Feb 12 '15 at 23:57
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    in case you didn't get it: "going on the street" means urinating. – Brian Hitchcock Feb 13 '15 at 1:26
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So what is the difference between :

I was going on the street when I saw her - "Going on the street" not really used in this sense... It could be construed to mean that you were urinating in the street when you saw her! ['going' colloquially used in this sense to refer to going to the toilet...]

I was going down the street when I saw her - "Going down" meaning travelling along or moving along the street, from one end to the other, the direction is not important. If direction is relevant, then you would add: "going down the street, from X to Y..."

I was going up the street when I saw her - could imply you were travelling along the street towards a more important destination, like "I'm going up to London" if travelling from the south. "I'm going down to London" if you are coming from the north of England. Probably only because of the geography in this case...

or

"I'm going up to University". "I'm coming down from University", implies that University is more important / prestigious than the place you are travelling from / to.

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