Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Suppose I'm instructing people to learn Chinese kungfu and I ask them to look at the direction, downward and forward(it's the movement of their eyes).

If I want to say "look forward and look downward at the same time", can I express it in the following way?

"look forward and downward."

I don't know if it's natural in English. If not, how should we say? Thank you in advance.

share|improve this question
    
Perhaps look straight down. Hmm, that doesn't sound quite right. –  Damkerng T. Dec 17 '13 at 9:13
    
You might be interested in our related site: English Language Learners –  Matt Эллен Dec 17 '13 at 9:14
1  
Thank you. But can I say "look down in front of you" or " the flying insect is straight down (as you said) –  longxianchen Dec 17 '13 at 9:29
    
I think straight down often implies below your feet (if you were standing). –  chaosamoeba Mar 11 at 18:09

1 Answer 1

You can use either "look forward" or "look downward" in English but the instruction "look forward and downward" is a little confusing because the directions are considered somewhat different from each other.

Another complicating factor is the idiom, "forward and upward" which isn't directly related to physical directions. If you were to say "forward and downward" many people would associate the phrase with the idiom and assume you were invoking some form of wordplay.

The alternative you mention in the comments is much more clear:

Look down in front of you.

This is a relatively common expression and means exactly what you want it to mean. You can also omit "down":

Look in front of you.

Most English speakers will look slightly ahead of themselves and then scan downward looking for the intended object.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.