In French, It's 'Poser une Question' Not 'Demander'

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Mistakes will always be made in French, and now you can learn from them.

In English, one has the option of saying either "ask a question" or "pose a question." But in French, demander can't be used with the word question, even though demander means "to ask." Poser une question is the best way.  

  Il m'a demandé pourquoi.
He asked me why.

  Puis-je te poser une question ?
Can I ask you a question?

  Vous pouvez poser des questions après la présentation.
You can ask questions after the presentation.

There are other, less frequently used ways, as well, to "ask a question" in French, including adresser une question (à quelqu'un) and formuler une question.

It's the way the language has evolved and how it's been formalized. That's how "to ask a question" has been taught in French schools and how people normally express it. 

Demander is tricky in other ways, too. This regular French -er verb is also a faux ami. It resembles the English word "demand," but it has nothing to do with this rather strident action. Rather, it is the most common French verb for the milder "to ask," and it can be used "to ask for" something, like a favor.

  Il m'a demandé de chercher son pull. > He asked me to look for his sweater.

Demander quelque chose à quelqu'un means "to ask someone for something." Note that in French there is no "for" or other preposition in front of the thing being requested. But there is a preposition in front of the person being asked:

   Je vais demander un stylo à Michel.
I'm going to ask Michel for a pen.

When you want to express that someone "demand" something, such as a new law, turn to the stronger French verb exiger.

   Il a exigé que je cherche son pull. > He demanded that I look for his pullover.

As for the French verb poser, in addition to being used for asking a question, it also means "to put down."

  Il a posé son livre sur la table.
He put his book on the table.

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Team, ThoughtCo. "In French, It's 'Poser une Question' Not 'Demander'." ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2023, Team, ThoughtCo. (2023, April 5). In French, It's 'Poser une Question' Not 'Demander'. Retrieved from Team, ThoughtCo. "In French, It's 'Poser une Question' Not 'Demander'." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 6, 2023).