It seems that the phrase "ask for directions" is more frequently used than the other two. Is it OK to say "ask directions"? And does it sound strange if I say "ask the way"? I'm an ESL learner, and not quite sure about whether I've asked the question on the right site. I would be very grateful if you could kindly point out any possible grammar mistakes or bad word choices in my question.

2 Answers 2


All three are in use in Britain, probably in roughly equal proportions. They are all acceptable. "Ask the way" does not sound strange this side of the Atlantic.

  • "Ask directions" sounds rather American to me but the other two sound fine. Perhaps there's a generational difference.
    – BoldBen
    Nov 25, 2016 at 11:29

Although it is possible that some speakers may use "ask directions", it is more common to use "ask for directions" (for example, "If you do not know how to get there, ask for directions."). "Ask the way" does sound somewhat strange and is not very common, at least in American English. It is possible that this phrased was used in an earlier era, but I may be wrong.


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