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  1. Member
    English Teacher
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    • Join Date: Apr 2004
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    #1

    "up" and "down" always puzzle me.

    Dear teachers,
    plz read the following sentence:
    The church is down the street from the hospital.
    What does "down" mean here? What does the sentence mean?
    other examples:
    We walked down the street.
    why "down" here?
    some books on learning English hold that "up" means toward north and "down" means toward "south". is it ture?
    and sometimes I assume that maybe the road is not flat, so up means toward the higher part and down means toward the lower part, like a slope.
    but other books say if you walk from street No. 4 (small number) to street No. 5 (bigger number", you use "walk up the street", if it is opposite, you say "walk down the street".
    oh, my goodness.
    Help me out of it.

  2. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    English Teacher
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      • British English
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      • UK
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      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 60,208
    #2

    Re: "up" and "down" always puzzle me.

    'Up' was used in British English for going to London, but also for Oxford and Cambridge- you'd go up to Cambridge and get sent down if you were expelled. However, unless there's an actual slope, I don't think it makes much difference. I think that the more relaxed my walk, the more likely I would be to use 'down'- I'd stroll down rather than up.


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 19,434
    #3

    Re: "up" and "down" always puzzle me.

    In London East Enders would "go up to the West End"

  3. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    English Teacher
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      • British English
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    #4

    Re: "up" and "down" always puzzle me.

    I suppose that, like the university cities, 'up' can be used when there's an idea of the place being important, special, but nowadays, couldn't they equally go 'down the West End'?


    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    #5

    Re: "up" and "down" always puzzle me.

    So far as I know they still go up to the West End!


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #6

    Re: "up" and "down" always puzzle me.

    Quote Originally Posted by japanjapan View Post
    Dear teachers,
    plz read the following sentence:
    The church is down the street from the hospital.
    What does "down" mean here? What does the sentence mean?
    other examples:
    We walked down the street.
    why "down" here?
    some books on learning English hold that "up" means toward north and "down" means toward "south". is it ture?
    and sometimes I assume that maybe the road is not flat, so up means toward the higher part and down means toward the lower part, like a slope.
    but other books say if you walk from street No. 4 (small number) to street No. 5 (bigger number", you use "walk up the street", if it is opposite, you say "walk down the street".
    oh, my goodness.
    Help me out of it.
    Tdol wrote: 'Up' was used in British English for going to London,

    I think Japanese use the same idea for some things, example, trains, wrt to Tokyo. Is that the case, JJ?

    Up and down can still carry theiir specific meanings if a street/road has some slope to it but generally, 'go up/go down/walk up/walk down this street/avenue/road' should be viewed by ESLs as a frozen idiomatic expression, a phrasal verb like 'look sth up" in a dictionary. You can just as easily look down to locate a word but the idiom is the idiom.

    I agree with Tdol that 'up' can still have some classy reference to it but again, that's something that would be noted in a certain context, eg. Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl". Otherwise, I think they are used interchangeablly in normal conversation.

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