Difference Between Directions and Instructions

Directions vs Instructions

When you buy a bottle of medicine and look at the dosage, are there instructions or directions for you? When you are moving on a road, trying to get to a destination that you are not aware of, do you ask for directions or instructions? Sounds confusing, isn’t it? Well, you are not alone as there are millions around the world who cannot differentiate between directions and instructions. This article attempts to find out the differences between these two, almost synonymous words.


If you are trying to learn a craft such as sewing or knitting, you follow the instructions of the teacher, magazine, or online classes. The same goes for learning to make a recipe where the cook will tell you to follow instructions. Instructions teach you the correct way of doing things. This is why you get an instruction manual for all electronic gadgets to operate them in a correct manner. In departments, senior officers give instructions to their juniors regarding a task or a project.


Directions are in the form of guidelines. You get directions from a person when you are trying to get to a place B from place A. When someone is directing you, he is trying to guide you in a particular direction. In a system of polity that is federal in nature, any program that has to be implemented at the state level comes from the federal government with directions how to implement it at the state level.


What is the difference between Directions and Instructions?

• In many contexts, directions and instructions can be used interchangeably.

• With a new gadget, there is always an instruction manual that helps in assembling and operating it. For example, when you buy a microwave, you are requested to read the instruction manual before operating it.

• Directions are given to provide a sense of direction as in programs coming from the federal government but sought to be implemented at the state government level.

• You ask for directions when you do not know the address of a particular place.

• When you learn a new task, you are given instructions by an expert that you need to follow.