Verbs Translating 'to Ask'

'Pedir,' 'Preguntar' Among Most Common

Sólo pedí que repararan el techo. (I only asked them to repair the roof.). Photo by John Proctor; licensed via Creative Commons.

Spanish has several verbs that can be used to translate "to ask." They are not all interchangeable, and there are some subtle differences in meaning among some of them.

Among those verbs:

Preguntar is the verb used most commonly to mean "to ask a question" or "to ask about" something. It is often followed by the preposition por to indicate the subject of the inquiry:

  • Preguntó por la situación legal de su hermano. He asked about his brother's legal situation.
  • Pablo preguntaba por ti. Pablo was asking about you.
  • Pregunté si había estudiado la lección. I asked if she had studied the lesson.

Preguntar is the verb used most often to indicate simply that a person had asked a question. — ¿En qué página está él? — preguntó Juana. "What page is it on?" Juana asked.

Pedir is usually used to indicate a direct request or to ask for (rather than about) something. Like the English verb "to request," it does not have to be followed by a preposition.

  • Pidió un coche azul. She asked for a blue car.
  • Sólo pedí que repararan el techo. I only asked them to repair the roof.
  • ¿Te pidió dinero? Did she ask you for money?

Rogar can mean to formally ask or to make a formal request. And depending on the context, it can also mean to beg or to pray.

  • Le rogamos que indique los números de teléfono completos. We request that you indicate the complete telephone number.
  • Se ruegan los clientes que tomen las precauciones oportunas para salvaguardar sus pertenencias. Customers are asked to take appropriate precautions in order to protect their belongings.
  • Te ruego que tengas piedad con mi madre. I beg you to have pity on my mother.
  • Fueron a la iglesia para rogar. They went to the church to pray.

Invitar can be used when asking someone to do something or go somewhere, much like the English cognate "invite."

  • Nunca he invitado a nadie a postear en mi blog. I never have asked anyone to post on my blog.
  • Te invito a mi casa. I am asking you to my house.

Solicitar can be used in much the same way as pedir, although it is less common and is most likely to be used with certain types of requests, such as for information, or in legal or business contexts.

  • Solicitan amnistía para ex presidente. They are asking for amnesty for the former president.
  • Solicitaron sus opiniones profesionales sobre el proyecto. They are asking for his professional opinions about the project.