Asking questions and asking for something in Spanish

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 perdónTo apologize
Pedir informesTo ask for information
Pedir ayudaTo ask for help

Pedir vs Preguntar Basic Quiz

The questions are based on the mini lesson above. So, go over it, then take the quiz below. You can re- take it as many times as you need. There's a comment box at the bottom in case you want to make a comment or ask a question. Have fun!

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