Using 'Pedir'

Common Verb Usually Means 'To Ask For' or 'To Request'

hurricane damage
El gobierno pidió la ayuda para los damnificados por el huracán. (The government asked for help for the hurricane victims.). Photo by State Farm; licensed via Creative Commons.

The verb pedir is used to refer to the making of requests and is typically translated as "to ask for" or "to request." It should not be confused with preguntar, which usually means "to ask a question."

Keep in mind that if using pedir to mean "to ask for," you shouldn't translate the "for" separately, as its meaning is already included in the verb. If you're a beginner at learning Spanish, it may help you to think of pedir as meaning "to request," because the sentence structure you use with that English translation may more closely mimic the Spanish sentence structure.

For example: Mis hijas me pidieron que les escribiera un libro. Both "My daughters asked me to write a book for them," and " My daughters requested that I write them a book" are good translations. The two English sentences have the same meaning, but the second one is worded more similarly to the Spanish.

Here are some examples of pedir in action:

  • El gobierno pidió la ayuda para los damnificados por el huracán. The government asked for help for the hurricane victims.
  • ¿Es malo si mi enamorada me pide dinero para resolver sus problemas? Is it bad if my sweetheart is asking me for money in order to solve her problems?
  • No pidas eso. Don't ask for that.
  • No pido el dinero para mí. I'm not asking for the money for myself.
  • Pidieron un coche y salieron de prisa. They asked for a car and left in a hurry.
  • ¿Qué pides para tu cumpleaños? What are you asking for for your birthday?

Note that "pedir que" is followed by a verb in the subjunctive mood:

  • Te pido que me escuches. I'm asking you to listen to me.
  • Pediremos que se reconozca el resultado de la elección. We will ask that the outcome of the election be recognized.
  • Nunca he pedido que me manden estos libros. I have never asked them to send me these books.

Although "to request" or "to ask for" nearly always works as a translation, in some contexts it is sometimes better translated with a different verb.

For example, pedir can sometimes have a stronger meaning than "ask":

  • Un tercio de los votantes pidieron un cambio radical. A third of the voters called for a radical change.
  • Mi jefe con rabia pudo haber borrado los archivos. My boss angrily demanded to have the files be erased.

Pedir can also be used to refer to the ordering of merchandise or services:

  • Me pongo muy triste cuando quiero pedir pizza y no tengo dinero. I get very sad when I want to order pizza and I don't have any money.
  • Lo pidieron tarde por internet y no llegó a tiempo. They ordered it late online and it didn't arrive on time.

Conjugation of pedir

Keep in mind that pedir is conjugated irregularly, following the pattern of vestir. When the -e- of the stem is stressed, it becomes an -i-. For example, here is the conjugation of the present-tense indicative mood: yo pido (I request), tú pides (you request), usted/él/ella pide (you/he/she request), nosotros/as pedimos (we request), vosotros/as pedís (you request), ustedes/ellos/ellas piden (you/they request).