The verb PREGUNTAR means to ask (questions). We use this verb when we interrogate a person that knows information about a certain topic.
You can use this verb combined with one of the main verbs: I want, I need, I’m going, etc.
I need to ask. — Necesito preguntar. Remember that you modify (conjugate) the first verb ONLY, the second one remains in the full form (infinitive).
I want to ask. — Quiero preguntar.
I’m going to ask. — Voy a preguntar.
You can indicate to whom you’re asking by adding to the second verb what we call “indirect object pronouns”:
Necesito preguntarte algo. — I need to ask you something.
Necesito preguntarle algo. —I need to ask him or her something. In this case -le indicates he, she (or usted), and you can clarify by adding the word “a” plus the person’s name.
Necesito preguntarle algo a Juan. — I need to ask him (Juan) something. The person’s name is the extra portion in the sentence. The use of -le is obligatory regardless if you decide to use the person’s name or not.
Voy a preguntarle mañana. — I’m going to ask her tomorrow.
Voy a preguntarle a Linda mañana. — I’m going to ask her (Linda) tomorrow.
The verb PEDIR, on the other hand, means to request or to ask for something. Let’s use it with one of the main verbs:
Necesito pedir la cuenta. — I need to ask for the bill. Notice that you don’t have to translate the word “for”; the verb pedir itself does the whole job. Add the indirect object pronouns to indicate to whom you’re asking for the bill.
Necesito pedirle la cuenta. — I need to ask him or her for the bill.
If you’re in a restaurant and you don’t know the waiter’s name, then you may simply want to use the word waiter only: el mesero or la mesera if it’s a girl.
I need to ask him (the waiter) for the bill. — Necesito pedirle la cuenta al mesero. Ok, here if you notice al is being used. Why? Because when “a” is before “el” (the), then these two words become one: a+el= al.
Ordering at a restaurant
You can always use the verb ‘to order’ in Spanish –ordenar:
Me gustaría ordenar tacos, por favor. — I would like to order tacos, please.
Or you can use pedir as well:
Me gustaría pedir tacos, por favor. — I would like to request/ask for tacos, por favor.
Commonly used expressions with pedir are:
Pedir permiso — To ask permission
Pedir perdón — To apologize
Pedir informes — To ask for information
Pedir ayuda — To ask for help
Pedir vs Preguntar Basic Quiz