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this seems a very laborious way to ask "how do i get to...?"  is this used?  "comment aller à..." would be easiest.  would it be rude?    

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I don't find it laborious. For that sort of a question perhaps   it indicates that you are  a bit confused or  the situation is confusing  and so are more likely to  get the help  you are asking for.

Asking for directions is  a whole area of life experience in its own right :)

Sometimes beating about the bush is the best approach (slow things down) 

Hi Alan, hi George. Comment allez-vous ?

Like Alan, I consider personnaly that ”Comment est-ce que...” is too heavy (laborious) in French.


Here other manners to say : “comment est-ce que je fais pour aller à... [la gare]?”

- Comment puis-je faire pour aller à la gare ?

- Comment dois-je faire pour aller à la gare ?

- Comment est-ce possible d'aller à la gare ?

- Comment puis-je aller à la gare ?

- Comment aller à la gare ?


In fact, the main purpose is to break the redundancy who cumulates “comment” +”est-ce que”. Like it's not possible to remove “comment” because this word gives all the sense for the question, the real solution is to delete "est-ce que" and replace it by a simpler similar.

Alan said : “is this used?”
Yes it is. “Comment est-ce que je...” is very common in French, but I think this formulation isn't nice... As I am not the language inventor, sometimes, I use it also...

Alan said : Would it be rude ?
No, it's not rude... Ugly only. ;-)

I add something for the accuracy :

- “Comment est-ce que je fais pour aller à...?” is ugly.

- "Comment aller à...?" is more nice.

But none is abusive.

Here how I wished to formulate exactly my last answer. ;-)

Can you say: Comment est-ce pour aller à la gare ?

No, sorry Robert, we cannot.

In the finest French usage, “Comment est-ce pour aller à la gare ?” would be meaning rather : “How is the locale situation to go at the train station ?” That would say : “How is weather ? Does the street is flooded ? Does the way is free or loaded? Inevitably, it indicates that there is a specific situation who is said before this question. For instance :

Speaker 1 : Wait a minute, I look for informations...

Speaker 2 : Alors, comment est-ce pour aller à la gare ?

Speaker 1 : Traffic's informations say that it's not the good moment to leave. It's the rush hour.

From the initial Alan's question, it's not possible to replace “Comment est-ce que je fais pour aller à [la gare]? by “Comment est-ce pour aller à la gare ?” They are two sentences who are alike, but each has his proper sense.

Voilà, I hope this explanation is understandable.

That is very clear, very understandable. I appreciate it.

I might recommend these for your sentences:

( where you had 2 verbs, do and be, both conjugated)
Are the streets flooded?
Is the route clear or congested?

(and where you had personal pronouns where they should be extremely rare, though not necessarily wrong)
They are 2 sentences that are alike, but each having its own sense.

Thanks alot for all tips, Robert. ( I note each trick that everyone gives me... )

Likewise, I was amazed that English people also use the word "route" who is exactly the same in French. Of course, if it's not a new word learned, but it's still a new usage.

i'm a little confused.  you said "Comment aller à la gare ?" is ugly in your first response but then you said it's nicer than the original way.  i'm surprised using the infinitive right after "comment" is somewhat ugly cuz you would say "comment expliquer..."  

maybe i'm wrong to think "comment" is always translated as "how".  to me "Que puis-je faire pour aller..." and "Que dois-je faire..." would make more sense in the first 2 sentences you gave as possibilities.  

it seems the easiest way for me to ask the question and be polite is "Comment puis-je aller à la gare ?"

you said "Comment aller à la gare ?" is ugly in your first response but then you said it's nicer than the original way.”

Yes, I also thought that my first explanation was a bit complicated. That's why I added a complement. Anyway, if it's not clear, I will re-explain all of them now.

I consider this formulation laborious and ugly.

- “comment est-ce que je fais pour aller à... [la gare]?”

On the contrary, these formulations are lighter and comfortable. I think indeed they are nicer.

- Comment puis-je faire pour aller à la gare ?

- Comment dois-je faire pour aller à la gare ?

- Comment est-ce possible d'aller à la gare ?

- Comment puis-je aller à la gare ?

- Comment aller à la gare ?

maybe i'm wrong to think "comment" is always translated as "how".”

“Comment” has always the sense of “how”, indeed...

to me "Que puis-je faire pour aller..." and "Que dois-je faire..." would make more sense in the first 2 sentences you gave as possibilities.  

... and you have reason to consider that “que” can be substituted instead of “comment”. In this case who is absolutely correct in French, “comment” is deleted and “est-ce que” becomes “que”, this one that you wrote in your both examples.

In fact, “que” wants to means : “by which manner/way”, such is the fundamental sense of “comment” in French. ( and I am almost sure that is the same in English concerning “how” ) So, “que puis-je faire pour aller à...” and “comment puis-je faire pour aller à...” are twins. It's consequently possible to add your proposals in my convenient list, of course. ;-)

it seems the easiest way for me to ask the question and be polite is "Comment puis-je aller à la gare ?"

No, your proposals are equally polite that my proposals. You can use them instead. ;-)

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