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Which one of these sentences is the most natural way to say this?

  1. You have to walk 200 feet up on Elm Street.

  2. You have to walk up 200 feet on Elm Street.

  3. You have to walk up for 200 feet on Elm Street.

    (Is this even used/correct?)

Also, assuming Elm Street extends from north to south, and we are facing west on a road that crosses it:

A. Are we implying walking north by using "up"?

B. Do you think there's a better way to communicate this message that the location of X is 200 feet/30 seconds/one block walk from where we are, and X is located north (or on the-right-hand side) of here, than my examples above?

  • "North" and "right-hand side" are not the same thing on English-language maps, so you may want to clarify which you're looking for. – Nathan Tuggy May 16 '16 at 23:12
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    As far as I know, there's no correlation between "up" and "North" or "down" and "South". They often even relate to the slope of the street or the direction the numbers increment... or whatever way the speaker wants... usually more info is needed... "up" requires a hand gesture or some other indication of direction. – Catija May 16 '16 at 23:16
  • @NathanTuggy You're right but in this imaginary context they happen to indicate the same direction. So as to answer your question: Either. – user34244 May 16 '16 at 23:43
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    All of these sound awkward to my British/Australian ear - I suspect the use of 'up' in this way to be primarily a US usage? I'd use 'up' in "You walk up Elm Street for 200 feet" but there would usually be some context around that - a from or to. No implication that up equates to North – PerryW May 16 '16 at 23:59
  • @PerryW I've been assuming this is a fragment of the directions... "Leave the store, go right, walk to the corner and then left up Elm street about 200 feet to find the pub." – Catija May 17 '16 at 0:09
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In my experience as an American English speaker, you would not need to use 'on' if you're using the 'walk up/down x street for y feet' construction. Frequently, even the 'for' is dropped. 'Up' and 'Down' are usually interchangeable unless the street itself has a noticeable vertical gradient. They don't have a N/S/E/W bias.

  • Thanks. Do you have any comments on Sarah's answer, specifically those parts pointing at use of 'for' in my example number 3 sounding awkward, and all of the examples being improper? – user34244 May 18 '16 at 18:34
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Sentence 3 ("You have to walk up for...") sounds the most awkward to my ear. All of them seem improper, but could be found in colloquial speech such as giving directions. I also read all of these in a southern American accent in my head, but maybe that's just me.

Anyway, to answer your other questions, no "up" does not imply "north". If the street is sloped it could imply walk uphill. If you are already on Elm street and someone says "Just go up the street another 200 feet" it would imply continue in the direction you are already moving. Otherwise I'd expect it to be accompanied by a hand gesture, more words, or both ("At the Elm/Main intersection take a left, then walk up Elm St 200 feet")

The most natural directions heavily depend on the situation. For example, where I live now thanks to some unique geography most people know which way is N/S/E/W instinctively, so saying "walk north another block" would be a good direction, but in my hometown I would rarely know which direction things were in without consulting a map.

I think the most fool-proof way to give directions is to say things in multiple ways, including left/right directions and blocks when possible. For example:

The gas station is a few blocks north of here, so you can walk that way (gesture) 2 blocks to Elm street, take a right turn and go straight for 200 feet. It'll be on your left"

If you aren't there at the time, I'd try to use landmarks to explain your point

If you're on Main street facing the high school, walk to your left 2 blocks...

Or always the tried and true

Just put it into google maps and let it tell you

;)

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