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Definition of ask verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



/æsk/ ask pronunciation American


1 [intransitive, transitive] ask (someone) (about someone/something) to say or write something in the form of a question, in order to get informationHow old are you—if you don't mind me/my asking? ask about someone/somethingHe asked about her family. ask somethingCan I ask a question?Did you ask the price? + speech“Where are you going?” she asked. ask someone + speech“Are you sure?” he asked her. ask someone somethingShe asked the students their names.I often get asked that! ask someone (about something)The interviewer asked me about my future plans. ask where, what, etc.…He asked where I lived. ask someone where, what, etc.…I had to ask the teacher what to do next.I was asked if/whether I could You cannot say “ask to sb”:I asked to my friend what had happened.


2 [transitive] to tell someone that you would like them to do something or that you would like something to happen ask someone to do somethingAll 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 someone 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.3 [intransitive, transitive] to say that you would like someone to give you something ask for somethingto ask for a job/a drink/an explanationI am writing to ask for some information about courses. ask somethingWhy don't you ask his advice? ask someone for somethingWhy don't you ask him for his advice? ask something of someoneCan I ask a favor of you? ask someone somethingCan I ask you a favor?


4 [transitive] to request permission to do something ask to do somethingDid 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 someone if, whether, etc.…She asked her boss whether she could have the day off.


5 [transitive] to invite someone ask someone (+ adverb/preposition)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 someone to do somethingShe's asked him to come to the party.


6 [transitive] ask something (for something) to request a particular amount of money for something that you are sellingHe's asking$4,000 for the car.How much were they asking for their house?


7 [transitive] to expect or demand something ask somethingI know I'm asking a great deal. ask something of someoneYou're asking too much of him. ask something to do somethingI know it's asking a lot to expect them to win again.

be asking a lot (of someone/something)

(informal) to be expecting someone or something to achieve or deal with a difficult thingBeating the world champions is certainly asking a lot of the asking a lotbe asking a lot of

be asking for trouble


be asking for it

(informal) to behave in a way that is very likely to result in troubleIf you keep teasing that cat, you are just asking for trouble!be asking for trouble

don't ask

(informal) 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

don't ask me

(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.”don't ask me

for the asking

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.for the asking

I ask you

(informal) if you say I ask you, you are expressing disapproval, shock, or anger about something or someoneHe told me I had to work late on Friday night. I ask you!I ask you

if you ask me

(informal) in my personal opinionTheir marriage was a mistake, if you ask me.if you ask me

ask for it

(informal) 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!”ask for it

ask around

to speak to a number of different people in order to try and get some informationI don't know of any vacancies in the company but I'll ask around.ask around

ask for someone/something

to say that you want to speak to someone or be directed to a placeWhen you arrive, ask for Jane.ask for

ask someone out

to invite someone to go out with you, especially as a way of starting a romantic relationshipHe's too shy to ask her out.ask out
Usage notesThesaurus: askinquire 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.patternsto ask/inquire about/after someone/somethingto ask/demand something of someoneto ask/inquire/demand to know what/who/how, ask/inquire politelyto ask/inquire/demand angrilyUsage notesThesaurus: demandexpect 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.patternsto demand/expect/ask/require something of/from someoneto demand/expect/insist/ask/require that…to expect/ask/require someone to do somethingto demand/expect/ask/require a lot/too much/a great dealto be too much to expect/ask