Is this the way? Using the word ‘way’ (1)

two hikers checking directions, their heads and bodies hidden behind a large paper map
Peter Cade/Stone/GettyImages

by Liz Walter

According to the Cambridge International Corpus, we use the word way 848 times in every million words, making it extremely common (by contrast, method comes up 65 times per million).

Learners of English use it even more often (939 times per million words), but this may be because they are using it where another word would sound more natural. In addition, we can see that learners often make mistakes with the grammar around the word way. In this post, I will describe some of the main meanings of way, list some very common and useful phrases that include it, and help you to avoid some common errors.

Firstly, we often use way to talk about routes to and from places. These examples show some very common phrases with this sense. Be careful not to use way when you should use journey:

Is this the way to the station?

I’ll meet you at Anna’s house. Do you know the way?

What’s the quickest way to the supermarket from here?

We were on the way to Bristol.

You need to go this/that way.

We chatted during the journey. (not way)

We also use way to talk about the direction that something is facing:

Which way were you facing?

Which way up does the container go?

I turned the vase the other way round.

Way is also common for talking about distance or length of time:

It’s a long way to my school.

We had to walk all the way.

My exams are still a long way off/away.

Way is often used to talk about the manner in which someone does something. With this meaning, way is often followed by a (that) clause or of + -ing verb or has an adjective in front of it. Be careful not to use an infinitive or say ‘the way how’ – these are common mistakes for learners:

I don’t like the way (that) she talks to me. (Not ‘the way how …’)

He has an odd way of speaking. (Not ‘way to speak’)

They waved in a friendly way.

When way means ‘method’, we usually use the patterns + to infinitive or + of + -ing verb. Remember not to say ‘the way how’:

I couldn’t remember the way to turn the heating on. (Not ‘the way how to …)

He knew a good way of making pancakes.

If you use of + noun to talk about how something is done, you need to use means or method and not way:

We need to find a reliable means of transport.

What’s the best method of communication to use?

I hope you have found this rather detailed post helpful. My next post will look at a few of the many useful phrases that contain the word way.

7 thoughts on “Is this the way? Using the word ‘way’ (1)

  1. Edith

    Dear Liz, thanks a lot for your helpful contributions, I appeciate it sooo much. So well explained, brings me advanced step by step
    🙏 from Edith/Hamburg

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