Definition of ask verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ɑːsk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//æsk//
    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they ask
    BrE BrE//ɑːsk//
    ; NAmE NAmE//æsk//
    he / she / it asks
    BrE BrE//ɑːsks//
    ; NAmE NAmE//æsks//
    past simple asked
    BrE BrE//ɑːskt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//æskt//
    past participle asked
    BrE BrE//ɑːskt//
    ; NAmE NAmE//æskt//
    -ing form asking
    BrE BrE//ˈɑːskɪŋ//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈæskɪŋ//
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  1. 1  [intransitive, transitive] to say or write something in the form of a question, in order to get information How old are you—if you don’t mind me/my asking? ask about somebody/something He asked about her family. ask something Can I ask a question? Did you ask the price? + speech ‘Where are you going?’ she asked. ask somebody + speech ‘Are you sure?’ he asked her. ask somebody something She asked the students their names. I often get asked that! ask somebody (about something) The interviewer asked me about my future plans. ask where, what, etc… He asked where I lived. ask somebody where, what, etc… I had to ask the teacher what to do next. I was asked if/whether I could drive. Synonymsaskenquire demandThese words all mean to say or write something in the form of a question, in order to get information. ask to say or write something in the form of a question, in order to get information:‘Where are you going?’ she asked. She asked the students their names. Can I ask a question?enquire/​inquire (rather formal) to ask somebody for information:I called the station to enquire about train times.demand to ask a question very firmly:‘And where have you been?’ he demanded angrily.Patterns to ask/​enquire about/​after somebody/​something to ask/​enquire/​demand something of somebody to ask/​enquire/​demand what/​who/​how, etc. to ask/​enquire politely to ask/​enquire/​demand angrily You cannot say ‘ask to somebody’:I asked to my friend what had happened.
  2. request
  3. 2  [transitive] to tell somebody that you would like them to do something or that you would like something to happen ask somebody to do something All the students were asked to complete a questionnaire. Eric asked me to marry him. ask whether, what, etc… I asked whether they could change my ticket. ask somebody whether, what, etc… She asked me if I would give her English lessons. ask that… (formal) She asked that she be kept informed of developments. (British English also) She asked that she should be kept informed. Express YourselfAsking for helpIf you need help, people are more likely to react favourably if you ask politely: Could you possibly help me? I wonder if you could give me a hand? Would you mind opening the door for me? I wonder if you'd mind taking a picture of us? Could I ask you to keep an eye on my luggage for a moment?Responses: Yes, of course. I'm sorry, I'm in a hurry. Sure.(informal or North American English)
  4. 3  [intransitive, transitive] to say that you would like somebody to give you something ask for something to ask for a job/a drink/an explanation I am writing to ask for some information about courses. ask something Why don't you ask his advice? ask somebody for something Why don't you ask him for his advice? ask something of somebody Can I ask a favour of you? ask somebody something Can I ask you a favour? express yourself at please
  5. permission
  6. 4  [transitive] to request permission to do something ask to do something Did you ask to use the car? I asked to see the manager. ask if, whether, etc… I'll ask if it's all right to park here. ask somebody if, whether, etc… She asked her boss whether she could have the day off.
  7. invite
  8. 5  [transitive] to invite somebody ask somebody (+ adv./prep.) They've asked me to dinner. I didn't ask them in (= to come into the house). We must ask the neighbours round (= to our house). ask somebody to do something She's asked him to come to the party. express yourself at invite
  9. money
  10. 6[transitive] ask something (for something) to request a particular amount of money for something that you are selling He's asking £2 000 for the car. How much were they asking for their house?
  11. expect/demand
  12. 7[transitive] to expect or demand something ask something I know I'm asking a great deal. ask something of somebody You're asking too much of him. ask something to do something I know it's asking a lot to expect them to win again. Synonymsdemandrequire expect insist askThese words all mean to say that somebody should do or have something.demand to ask for something very firmly; to say very firmly that somebody should have or do something:She demanded an immediate explanation.require [often passive] (rather formal) to make somebody do or have something, especially because it is necessary according to a law or set of rules or standards:All candidates will be required to take a short test.expect to demand that somebody should do, have or be something, especially because it is their duty or responsibility:I expect to be paid promptly for the work.insist to demand that something happens or that somebody agrees to do something:I didn’t want to go but he insisted. We insist on the highest standards at all times.ask to expect or demand something:You’re asking too much of him.demand, expect or ask? Ask is not as strong as demand or expect, both of which can be more like a command.Patterns to demand/​require/​expect/​ask something of/​from somebody to demand/​require/​expect/​insist/​ask that… to require/​expect/​ask somebody to do something to demand/​require/​expect/​ask a lot/​too much/​a great deal to be too much to expect/​ask
  13. Word OriginOld English āscian, āhsian, āxian, of West Germanic origin.Extra examples ‘Do you still want to go out tonight?’ she asked hopefully. ‘How do you feel?’ she asked softly. ‘Oh, Sue went too, did she?’ I asked innocently. ‘Will he be all right?’ Sabrina asked anxiously. He specifically asked for information on the subject. How old are you—if you don’t mind my asking? I completely forgot to ask his name. I often get asked that. I wanted to ask him a question. I wondered how old she was but I didn’t dare ask. I’m not asking for money. If you ask her nicely, she’ll give you a hand. She longed to ask Mary if she knew what was wrong. Voters can legitimately ask whose interests are being served by the new legislation. We can legitimately ask what competence an official based in Whitehall has to solve the problems of rural Scotland. Who are you asking to the party? All the students were asked to complete a form. He asked me for a job yesterday. He’s asking £2 000 for the car. I didn’t ask them in. I know I’m asking a great deal. I was asked if/​whether I could drive. I went up to the bar and asked for a beer. I’ll ask if it’s all right to park here. If you want anything, just ask. It’s asking a lot to expect them to win again. May I ask what you mean by that? Shall we ask Jon and Alison to dinner at the weekend? She asked me if I would help her with her English. She asked where I lived. She’s asked him to come to the party. We must ask the neighbours round. Why don’t you ask David’s advice? Why don’t you ask your teacher for some of her thoughts on the matter? You’re asking too much of him.Idioms (informal) to deserve something bad that happens to you or that somebody does to you ‘You shouldn’t have said that to her.’ ‘Well, she asked for it!’
    be asking for trouble, be asking for it
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    (informal) to behave in a way that is very likely to result in trouble
    (informal) if you say don’t ask to somebody, you mean that you do not want to reply to their question, because it would be awkward, embarrassing, etc. ‘And what did he do then?’ ‘Don’t ask!’ (informal) if you say don’t ask me, you mean that you do not know the answer to a question and are annoyed you have been asked ‘What will the meeting be about?’ ‘Don’t ask me.’ if you can have something for the asking, it is very easy for you to get it if you ask for it The job is yours for the asking. (informal) if you say I ask you, you are expressing disapproval, shock or anger about something/somebody He told me I had to work late on Friday night. I ask you! (informal) in my personal opinion Their marriage was a mistake, if you ask me.
    Phrasal Verbsask after somebodyask aroundask somebody backask for somebodyask somebody out