Speak English Around Town » LESSON 20 - Traveling by Car

Traveling by Car

Sara and Nick are taking a car trip. Nick has taken a wrong turn, and now they need to stop and ask for directions.

Sara: Do you think we can make it to Joe and Mary's by 7?

Nick: I hope so. It's only 5 o'clock now and we've only got about 120 miles left to go. We're making good time.

Sara: Yes, but we still need to make a pit stop. Don't you want to stop somewhere and grab a bite?

Nick: I guess so. Let's look for a place we can turn off.

Sara: I just saw a sign that said Route 584 North. Aren't we supposed to be on 80 East!

Nick: Yes. We must've taken a wrong turn somewhere.

Sara: I thought you said you knew these roads like the back of your hand. Did you doze off or what?

Nick: We'd better stop at a gas station and ask for directions.

(at the gas station)

Sara: Hi, we're lost. Can you tell me the quickest way to get on 80 East?

Clerk: Hang a left out of the gas station. Hop on 35 South. Take it about 10 miles and you'll see a sign for 80 East.

Sara: Thanks a lot.

(back in the car)

Nick: Did you get the directions?

Sara: Yes. Left out of here, then 35 South to 80 East.

Nick: Got it.

Sara: Careful! You almost hit a piece of tire in the road.

Nick: Please don't be a backseat driver!

Sara: I try to bite my tongue, but sometimes I can't help myself.

  • backseat driver
    a passenger who offers unwanted driving advice
    Example: "You're driving too close to the car in front ofus." - "Don't be a backseat driver!"
  • (to) bite one's tongue
    to not say what one is really thinking; to resist saying something one wants to say
    Example: Mary doesn't like her husband's snacking habits, but she tries to bite her tongue.
  • (to) doze off
    to fall asleep
    Example: Matt stayed up so late doing his homework, he ended up dozing off in class.
  • got it
    I understand; do you understand
    Example 1: "Take a right at the light and go three blocks. The restaurant will be on your right." - "Got it."
    Example 2: "You can borrow my car, but bring it back by 9. Got it?" "Got it."
  • (to) grab a bite
    to get something quick to eat
    Example: Let's meet at 7 o'clock and grab a bite before the concert.
  • (to) hang a left / a right
    to turn left / right
    Example: Hang a right at the next stoplight and you'll see the Whole Foods on your right.
  • (to) hop on
    to get on a road
    Example: If you're going downtown, hop on the highway. It's the fastest way.
  • (to) know something like the back of one's hand
    to know very well (said most often about streets or places)
    Example: We don't need to bring a map with us. I know Boston like the back of my hand.
  • (to) make a pit stop
    to make a quick stop, usually to use the bathroom or to get something to eat
    Example: "Would you mind making a pit stop? After drinking so much coffee, I need to use the bathroom."
  • (to) make good time
    to travel efficiently; to get somewhere in less time than expected
    Example: It's noon and we're already in Pennsylvania? We're making good time!
  • (to) take a wrong turn
    to turn where one shouldn't have
    Example: We were headed to Manhattan, but we took a wrong turn and ended up in Brooklyn.
  • (to) turn off
    to exit the highway
    Example: I think we're going the wrong way. Turn off here and we'll check the map.
  • I can't help myself
    I can't stop myself; I can't resist
    Example: "Stop telling me how to drive!" -"Sorry, I can't help myself."
Practice the Expressions

Fill in the blanks using the following expressions:

  • grab a bite
  • taken a wrong turn
  • doze off
  • turn off
  • like the back of your hand
  • backseat driver
  • made a pit stop
  • bite my tongue
  • making good time
  • I can't help myself

Doug: I just saw a sign that said "Entering New York." We must have (1) __________ somewhere.

Lynn: Oh no! You told me you knew these roads (2) __________ .

Doug: I thought I did.

Lynn: I'm getting hungry anyway. Let's stop somewhere to (3) __________ , and we can ask for directions.

Doug: Yeah, I'd better get some coffee so I don't (4) __________ . We haven't (5) __________ in a few hours.

Lynn: Let's (6) __________ at the next exit and look for a restaurant.

Doug: I can't believe we're going the wrong way. I thought we were (7) __________ . Now we're going to be late.

Lynn: Hey, slow down! We don't want to miss the exit.

Doug: Please don't be a (8) __________ .

Lynn: Sorry, sometimes (9) __________ , but I'll try to (10) __________ in the future!

Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. taken a wrong tum
  2. like the back of your hand
  3. grab a bite
  4. doze off
  5. made a pit stop
  6. tum off
  7. making good time
  8. backseat driver
  9. I can't help myself
  10. bite my tongue
Answer Key
Language Lens: Phrases with "so"

To give a positive reply, use "so" instead of "yes" after: afraid, believe, guess, hope, suppose, and think.

Say Do NOT Say
I'm afraid so I'm afraid yes
I believe so I believe yes
I guess so I guess yes
I hope so I hope yes
I think so I think yes
I suppose so I suppose yes

"I'm afraid so" means "unfortunately, yes."

Say "I guess so" or "I suppose so" to mean you are not too happy about doing something.

"Did your team lose?" - "I'm afraid so."
"Do we have next Monday off?" - "I believe so."
"Should we invite Brad to the party?" - "I guess so."
"Don't you think we'll have good weather?" - "I hope so."
"Will it snow tonight?" - "I think so."
"Can I borrow the car on Friday night?" - "I suppose so."

Quick Quiz

Give a positive reply to the following, using the verb in parentheses + so:

Is John coming home for Thanksgiving? (hope)
Answer: I hope so.

  1. Are Ken and Tanya going to get married? (hope)
  2. Are you going to Ivan's party on Saturday night? (think)
  3. Did you forget to water the plants while I was away? (afraid)
  4. Do you think we should take a taxi downtown? (guess)
  5. Are they serving dinner at the holiday party? (think)
  6. Did somebody drink the last can of Diet Coke? ( afraid)
  7. Are we getting off work early this Friday? (hope)
  8. Can you loan me your iPod? (guess)
  9. Is Keith going to get promoted? (think)
  10. Is David joining us for dinner on Saturday? (hope)
Answer Key
  1. I hope so.
  2. I think so.
  3. I'm afraid so.
  4. I guess so.
  5. I think so.
  6. I'm afraid so.
  7. I hope so.
  8. I guess so.
  9. I think so.
  10. I hope so.
Answer Key
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