How to Ask for Something in Spanish: PEDIR vs. PREGUNTAR

In this section, you’re going to learn even more useful words, including either, or, that, which, but, and neither. You may not realize how often you use these words in English without even thinking about them. They’re extremely important if you want to express yourself clearly and understand what others are saying to you. So let’s get into it!

Asking for something in Spanish

You may have noticed that the verbs pedir and preguntar both mean the same thing: to ask. Just like the twin verbs ser and estar (to be), and saber and conocer (to know), the verbs pedir and preguntar have the same definition but completely separate usages in Spanish.

to ask a question, to ask for information
to ask for something, to request

You are going to ask a lot of questions if you travel to a foreign country. You’ll need to ask where things are, how much things cost, and how to say new words in Spanish. The verb that describes all these “asking” situations is preguntar.

The Ordinary Asking Word: PREGUNTAR

Por ejemplo:

  • ask something
Siempre me preguntas. ¿Por qué no puedes ver el diccionario?
You’re always asking me. Why can’t you look at the dictionary?
Me preguntaron si te conocía, pero les dije que no.
They asked me if I knew you, but I said no.

You can also use the preposition por with preguntar to form the expression preguntar por. This can mean to ask for or about, or to ask on behalf of someone.

Por ejemplo:
  • ask about food
Les pregunté por mi comida, porque no había llegado todavía.
I asked them about my food, because it still hadn’t arrived.
Pregunté por mi computadora para ver si ya estaba lista.
I asked about my computer to see if it was ready yet.
Les pregunté por mi padre, como él no podía ir.
I asked them on behalf of my father, as he could not go.

A Closer Look at PEDIR

Say that you don’t want information. What you really need is for someone to do something for you. You need the bellhop to bring your bags, you need the front desk to set a wakeup call, or you need that shirt in a different size. When you are asking for something or asking someone to do something, you will use pedir.

Remember that pedir means to ask for. As a result, you don’t need to add the word for after the verb.

Por ejemplo:

  • ask for license
Te pido ayuda.
I ask you for help.
Marco me pidió que le cuidara a su gato mientras está de vacaciones.
Marco asked me to look after his cat while he is on vacation.
La policía me pidió mi licencia de manejar, pero no la tenía.
The police asked me for my driving license, but I didn’t have it.

In the next section we'll talk about How to Ask the Question, "What?"


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