Here is a map of the United States of America. We are going to use this map for several different lessons. Find the lesson for your level, and let’s get started!
image by Wikimedia Commons user:Wapcaplet, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Levels 1 and 2 – Prepositions of Place
“Next to” and “beside” are the same. They mean “on one side” or “to the side of.”
- North Carolina is next to Tennessee.
- North Carolina is beside Tennessee.
- Tennessee is next to North Carolina.
- Tennessee is beside North Carolina.
- Illinois is next to Indiana.
- Indiana is beside Illinois.
- Colorado and Nevada are next to Utah.
- Nevada and Arizona are beside California.
“Between” means “in the middle” (side to side OR up and down).
- Utah is between Colorado and Nevada.
- North Carolina is between Virginia and South Carolina.
- Iowa is between Missouri and Minnesota.
“In” means “inside.” The states have borders (lines where one state stops and a different state starts). Cities are in states.
- Raleigh is in North Carolina.
- North Carolina is in the United States.
- We live in the United States.
- We live in North Carolina.
- We live in Raleigh.
Practice with a partner. Person A will ask a question. Person B will answer the question. Take turns asking and answering.
- A: Where is Durham?
B: Durham is in North Carolina.
- A: Where is Oklahoma?
B: Oklahoma is next to Arkansas.
- A: Where is Montana?
B: Montana is between Idaho and North Dakota.
- A: Where is New Jersey?
B: New Jersey is beside Pennsylvania.
- A: Where is Hawaii?
B: Hawaii is in the Pacific Ocean.
- A: Where is Alaska?
B: Alaska is next to Canada.
- A: Where is Alabama?
B: Alabama is between Georgia and Mississippi.
- A: What is next to Massachusetts?
B: New York is next to Massachusetts.
- A: What is beside Missouri?
B: Illinois and Kansas are next to Missouri.
- A: What is between New York and New Hampshire?
B: Vermont is between New York and New Hampshire.
Talk with your classmates.
- Where do you live? (I live in __________.)
- Which state do you want to visit? Why?
- Do you like to travel? Why/Why not?
Levels 3 and 4 – Compass Directions
image by WTCC instructor ecparent
A compass shows the direction you are traveling. There are four main directions on a compass – north, south, east, and west. When we compare the locations of two places, we can use the compass directions and “of.” Here are some examples:
- Virginia is north of North Carolina.
- California is west of Nevada.
- Texas is south of Oklahoma.
- New Jersey is east of Pennsylvania.
In those examples, the states are touching, but they don’t have to touch. Look at some more examples:
- California is west of North Carolina.
- Florida is south of New York.
- Minnesota is east of Washington.
- South Dakota is north of Texas.
If you want to show clearly that the states are touching, you can use “just” with the compass direction.
- Virginia is just north of North Carolina.
- California is just west of Nevada.
- Texas is just south of Oklahoma.
- New Jersey is just east of Pennsylvania.
If a place is not exactly north, but not exactly east, we say it’s north-east. For example, Kentucky is north-west of North Carolina. Here are some more examples:
- North Dakota is north-east of Wyoming.
- Texas is just south-west of Arkansas.
- New Mexico is just south-east of Utah.
Talk with a partner. Look at the map, and take turns asking and answering questions.
- What is just west of Georgia?
- What is east of North Carolina?
- What is just north of Florida?
- What is west of Oregon?
- What is just north-west of Missouri?
Now practice asking your own questions. Your partner will answer.
Levels 5 and 6 – Abbreviations and Internet Research
Study the easier lessons to make sure you understand. Then search the internet for the answers to these questions.
- Where is the Grand Canyon?
- Finish this sentence: Barstow, CA is ___________ miles ____________ of Wilmington, NC on I-40.
- Where was Abraham Lincoln born?
- Where are the Great Lakes? What are their names?
- Where is the biggest state? Where is the smallest state? (Don’t just say their names. Describe where they are.)
Every state has an abbreviation that is used for sending mail and writing the name of the state in a short way. Each abbreviation has two letters. We write them with capital letters and no periods. Here are all the state abbreviations.
image by WTCC instructor ecparent
When we read a state’s abbreviation out loud, we usually say the full name of the state. For example, when I see “Portland, OR,” I will say, “Portland, Oregon,” NOT, “Portland, O-R.” This is especially important when you are talking about Louisiana. If you say, “L-A,” people might think that you are talking about Los Angeles, CA. Read these cities and states out loud to practice saying the full name of the state.
- New York, NY
- Boston, MA
- Los Angeles, CA
- New Orleans, LA
- Raleigh, NC
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Detroit, MI
- Chicago, IL
- Las Vegas, NV