American English

Definition of ask verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they ask
    he / she / it asks
    past simple asked
    -ing form asking
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  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] ask (somebody) (about somebody/something) 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 Iask 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. You cannot say “ask to somebody”:I asked to my friend what had happened.
  2. request
  3. 2[transitive] to tell someone 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.
  4. 3[intransitive, transitive] to say that you would like someone 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 favor of you? ask somebody something Can I ask you a favor?
  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 someone 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 neighbors over (= to our house). ask somebody to do something She's asked him to come to the party.
  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$4,000 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. Thesaurusdemandexpect insist ask requireThese words all mean to say that someone should do or have something.demand to ask for something very firmly; to say very firmly that someone should have or do something:She demanded an immediate explanation.expect to demand that someone 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 someone agrees to do something:She insisted that I go with her. 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.require [often passive] (somewhat formal) to make someone 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.Patterns to demand/expect/ask/require something of/from somebody to demand/expect/insist/ask/require that… to expect/ask/require somebody to do something to demand/expect/ask/require a lot/too much/a great deal to be too much to expect/ask
  13. Idioms
    ask for it (informal)
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    to deserve something bad that happens to you or that someone does to you “You shouldn't have said that to her.” “Well, she asked for it!”
    be asking for trouble, be asking for it (informal)
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    to behave in a way that is very likely to result in trouble If you keep teasing that cat, you are just asking for trouble!
    be asking a lot (of somebody/something) (informal)
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    to be expecting someone or something to achieve or deal with a difficult thing Beating the world champions is certainly asking a lot of the team.
    don't ask (informal)
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    if you say don't ask to someone, 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!”
    don't ask me (informal)
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    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.”
    for the asking
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    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.
    I ask you (informal)
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    if you say I ask you, you are expressing disapproval, shock, or anger about something or someone He told me I had to work late on Friday night. I ask you!
    if you ask me (informal)
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    in my personal opinion Their marriage was a mistake, if you ask me.
    Phrasal Verbsask aroundask for somebody/somethingask somebody out
Thesaurusaskinquire 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?inquire (somewhat formal) to ask someone for information:I am writing to inquire about the research position. May I inquire who's calling, please?(= on the telephone)demand to ask a question very firmly:The client demanded an explanation. “I demand to know who wrote this,” he said.Patterns to ask/inquire about/after somebody/something to ask/demand something of somebody to ask/inquire/demand to know what/who/how, etc. to ask/inquire politely to ask/inquire/demand angrily