How to use the English verb “ask” correctly

Advanced English Grammar Course

English Verbs: Ask“Ask” is one of the most common verbs in English, but there are a number of details to remember when you use it in a sentence. Here are 8 ways to use the English verb “ask” correctly.

1. Ask (someone) for + object

Use “ask for” with the object you want to receive:

  • I asked the teacher for a pencil.
  • I asked her for a glass of water.
  • My son asked for a video game for Christmas.

You can also use ask (someone) for when the thing you want to receive is not a physical object:

  • I asked the teacher for some help with the homework.
  • I’m going to ask my sister for advice.
  • Let’s ask the travel agent for information.

2. Ask (someone) about + topic

Use “ask about” with a topic that you want information about:

  • I asked the teacher about the final exam.
  • I asked my colleague about his trip to Portugal.
  • My boss asked me about the project.
  • Let’s ask the travel agent about flights to Europe.

3. Ask (someone) + question

You can also use the structure “ask (someone)” followed by the actual question you asked, using who, what, when, where, how, why:

  • I asked my kids who had made the mess in the kitchen.
  • He asked me what I like to do on the weekends.
  • Let’s ask when the next showing of the movie is.
  • I asked Jill where she had bought her dress.
  • The hotel receptionist asked me how many nights I would be staying.
  • Have you ever asked him why he doesn’t like to travel?

Use ask… if for yes/no questions

  • I asked her if she likes to dance.
  • Let’s ask the waitress if there are any lunch specials.
  • The teacher asked the class if everyone had finished the homework.

4. Ask (someone) to + verb

Use this structure when you want a person to do something (or not to do something)

  • My mother asked me to clean my room.
  • I asked my secretary to print out the report.
  • They asked us not to make so much noise in the library.
  • The doctor asked me not to eat for 12 hours before the surgery.

Error Alert! Never use: Ask to (someone)

I asked to my friend if she had any plans.
I asked my friend if she had any plans.

Let’s ask to the teacher our question.
Let’s ask the teacher our question.

He asked to me about my family.
He asked me about my family.

I asked to everyone turn off their cell phones during the meeting.
I asked everyone to turn off their cell phones during the meeting

Phrasal verbs with ask

5. ask around = ask a number of people for information or help

“What’s the best restaurant in this area?”
“I like Gotham Bar & Grill, but if you ask around I’m sure you’ll get a number of great suggestions.”

6. ask out = invite someone out on a romantic date

He wants to ask her out, but he’s too nervous.

You can also specify the invitation:

  • He asked me out to/for dinner.
  • He asked me out to/for lunch.
  • He asked me out for a movie.
  • He asked me out for a drink.
  • He asked me out for coffee.

7. ask over = invite someone to your home

I’m going to ask the new neighbors over for dinner tomorrow night.

Barbara asked me over to fix her computer.

8. ask (someone) over and over (again)
= ask the same question many times

I’ve asked her over and over again to stop calling me, and she just won’t listen.

We asked him over and over why he was upset, but he didn’t want to tell us.

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