Ask and ask for - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online

Ask and ask for

from English Grammar Today


Ask is a verb meaning ‘put a question or seek an answer from someone’:

Can I ask you a question?

He asked me what age I was.

‘How are you?’ she asked.

Ask + to-infinitive

We can use ask with the to-infinitive to talk about requesting something:

She asked to see Professor Fenton. (ask + to-infinitive)

We asked the City Council to help us organise a sports day. (ask + object + to-infinitive).

Ask for

If you ask for something, it means that you want someone to give you something:

I always ask for extra tomato sauce on my pizza.

They asked their boss for more money, but he refused.


Don’t confuse ask for and demand. Demand means ‘ask for something forcefully’, in a way that shows we are not expecting a refusal:

We are writing to ask for your help in finding suitable accommodation in New Haven.

Not: We are writing to demand

Ask and ask for: typical error

  • We use for when we request someone to give us something:

I called them to ask for more details.

Not: I called them to ask more details.

(“Ask and ask for” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
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