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.

Idioms
  • 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.

Examples:
"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:

Example:
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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