Directions vs Instructions

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What’s the difference between them?



guidance or advice on how to reach a particular destination or achieve a specific goal.


1. Please follow the directions on the back of the package.

2. She gave me clear directions on how to get to her house.

3. Can you please provide me with better directions?



detailed explanations or orders given to guide someone in performing a task or carrying out an activity.


1. Please follow the instructions carefully before assembling the product.

2. The instructions for the science experiment were unclear.

3. I couldn't remember all the instructions, so I wrote them down.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. Guidance

2. Course

3. Directions

4. Instructions

5. Route Map

1. Aimlessness

2. Misguidance

3. Disorientation

4. Lostness

5. Uncertainty


1. Directive: Command

2. Exhortation: Urge

3. Directions: Guidance

4. Prescribe: Impose

5. Advise: Counsel

1. Confusion

2. Misdirection

3. Disarray

4. Chaos

5. Disorder

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Directions", "Instructions".

1. Directions tend to refer to general guidance about how to get from one place to another.

2. Instructions refer to more precise guidance regarding how to do something.

3. When looking for ways to get from one place to another, look for 'directions'.

4. When needing precise guidance about how to do something, look for 'instructions'.

5. 'Direction' leads to the 'destination'.

6. 'Instructions' help you complete a 'task'.

Practice English with the Promova app and avoid misusing confusing words

Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the first word 'Directions' be used?

Directions are a set of instructions given to indicate how to reach a particular destination, how to complete a task, or how to operate a product. It is appropriate to use the word 'Directions' when providing guidance on how to accomplish or reach something.

When is the appropriate context for using the second word 'Instructions'?

Instructions are a set of directions or tasks that need to be completed in a particular order. It is appropriate to use the word 'Instructions' when providing clear, specific steps on how to complete a task.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, directions is pronounced /dairek∫ns/ while instructions is pronounced /instrak∫ns/

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One common mistake people make when using these words is using them interchangeably. While 'Directions' and 'Instructions' are related and can be used in many similar contexts, the main distinction between the two is that 'Directions' provide guidance on how to reach a destination or operate a product, while 'Instructions' provide clear, specific steps on how to complete a task.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1.After assembling the furniture, I realized I had not followed the _______ correctly.

2. Can you give me _______ to the nearest gas station?

3. The teacher handed out the exam and reminded everyone to read the _______ carefully before answering.

4. Lost in the city, Sarah had to ask a passerby for _______ to the museum.

5. The cooking recipe provided clear _______ on how to make the perfect lasagna.

6. Before using the new software, make sure to go through the user manual for proper _______.

1. Answer: instructions

Explanation: The context is about assembling furniture, which typically comes with a set of detailed guidelines on how to put it together. Hence, instructions is the more appropriate term.

2. Answer: directions

Explanation: The sentence is asking for guidance on how to reach a specific destination (gas station), making directions the correct choice.

3. Answer: instructions

Explanation: In an exam context, detailed guidelines on how to answer questions or follow the test format are typically referred to as instructions.

4. Answer: directions

Explanation: The scenario involves asking how to reach a specific place (museum), so directions is the apt word to use.

5. Answer: instructions

Explanation: A cooking recipe offers step-by-step guidance on how to prepare a dish, which is better described by the term instructions.

6. Answer: instructions

Explanation: The user manual of software would contain a set of detailed guidelines or steps on how to use the software effectively, so instructions fits best in this context.

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Download the PDF with a list of commonly confused words made as flashcards for comfortable learning.

List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.