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Preguntar vs. Pedir

Why does Spanish have two verbs that mean “to ask”? Today we’ll explore the verb Pedir and how it’s used differently from Preguntar. We’ll also get lots of spoken practice using both Pedir and Preguntar in real sentence contexts.

Full Podcast Episode


No te pedí que hicieras eso.

Intro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.

Yesterday we learned how to use the verb Preguntar to talk about asking for information. For example:

I am going to ask him if he has it.

Le voy a preguntar si lo tiene.

But what if what we are asking is not for information, but instead for someone to do something? For example:

I am going to ask him to do it.

Spanish uses a different verb for this type of asking. The verb is Pedir, spelled p-e-d-i-r. And it basically means “to request”. So here’s that sentence in Spanish:

Le voy a pedir que lo haga.

So this is literally “I am going to request to him that he do it.” We’ve used an indirect object in the first half, and then the request itself is a que phrase with a subjunctive. Try it yourself in this next example:

I want to ask them to leave.

Les quiero pedir que se vayan.

Now let’s start conjugating this verb. This verb ends in i-r, and it’s conjugated mostly like Vivir, but with a few exceptions. In the present tense, the letter E changes to a letter I when stressed, just like in the verb Seguir. So remember that in Seguir we had sigo, sigue, sigues, siguen, and then seguimos, which is regular because it doesn’t stress the first syllable. For Pedir, we have pido, pide, pides, piden, and then pedimos, which is regular. Here are a couple of examples:

You ask him to put his things there.

Le pides que ponga sus cosas ahí.

They ask me to apologize.

Me piden que me disculpe.

Note that Pedir can also be used to mean “to ask for” something, or “to order” something. In those cases it simply takes a direct object. For example:

We order a coffee and sit down.

Pedimos un café y nos sentamos.

Let’s practice using Pedir.

I’m requesting to watch the news.

Pido ver las noticias.

They don’t ask her to do anything.

No le piden que haga nada.

You don’t have to order what she orders.

No tienes que pedir lo que ella pide.

We ask that you come with us, rather.

Te pedimos que vengas con nosotros más bien.

I request forty-one messages, and you request fifty-four.

Pido cuarenta y un mensajes y tú pides cincuenta y cuatro.

The preterite forms of Pedir are mostly conjugated like Vivir and Deber, but with the same exceptions as the verbs Morir and Seguir: When there’s an unstressed I in the second half of the word, the first E turns into an I. So we have pedí, pediste, and pedimos, which are regular, but then pidió and pidieron. So for example:

I didn’t order what they(f) ordered.

No pedí lo que ellas pidieron.

She didn’t order this. Did you order it?

Ella no pidió esto. ¿Lo pediste tú?

Let’s practice the preterites.

She asked them to go.

Les pidió que fueran.

They ordered food on their date.

Pidieron comida en su cita.

I didn’t ask you to do that.

No te pedí que hicieras eso.

We ordered forty-eight, but you ordered more.

Pedimos cuarenta y ocho, pero tú pediste más.

She didn’t order this, but she might order it in the future.

No pidió esto, pero puede pedirlo en el futuro.

The subjunctive forms are all based on pida. So we have pida, pidas, pidan, and pidamos. For example:

I want them to order something.

Quiero que pidan algo.

Take a shot at this next example, which is pretty complex:

Do you want me to ask him not to do that?

¿Quieres que le pida que no haga eso?

Some other common forms include the participle, pedido, which is regular, and the gerund, pidiendo, which is slightly irregular. For example:

She is ordering something she hasn’t ordered before.

Está pidiendo algo que no ha pedido antes.

Also very common are the infinitive contractions pedirle, pedirte, and pedirme. For example:

I’ll leave after asking her to come with me.

Me iré después de pedirle que venga conmigo.

Let’s practice a bunch of these other forms of Pedir. This first example “she is asking you for help”, uses a pretty common construction for Pedir: The indirect object will be te and the direct object will be ayuda. So the person being requested is the indirect object, and the thing being requested is the direct object. Try to predict the Spanish:

She is asking you for help.

Te está pidiendo ayuda.

She wants them to ask for a test.

Quiere que pidan una prueba.

She is sad for asking him to leave.

Está triste por pedirle que se vaya.

I want you (formal) to order this.

Quiero que usted pida esto.

When I order my food, we can leave.

Cuando pida mi comida, nos podemos ir.

I have ordered forty-three, not forty-four.

He pedido cuarenta y tres, no cuarenta y cuatro.

She is going to call me after asking me for my number.

Me va a llamar después de pedirme mi número.

She has to call you before asking you for something.

Tiene que llamarte antes de pedirte algo.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/187. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz. Be careful, because this quiz will involve a lot of uses of Preguntar as well as Pedir. Make sure you can choose the right one based on whether someone is asking for information or is making a request.

OK, first example:

(Formal) Don’t ask him about that on his birthday.

No le pregunte sobre eso en su cumpleaños.

Ask me about my Christmas, it was great!

Pregúntame sobre mi Navidad, ¡fue genial!

If you ask us to do that, we ask you for a signal.

Si nos pides que hagamos eso, te pedimos una señal.

If he asks you for a piece of advice on the call, give him the advice.

Si te pide un consejo en la llamada, dale el consejo.

I don’t want him to ask me that again.

No quiero que me pregunte eso otra vez.

I’m asking you for fifty-nine dollars.

Te estoy pidiendo cincuenta y nueve dólares.

Don’t ask me because I don’t know it.

No me preguntes porque no lo sé.

He asks me if you have asked her already.

Me pregunta si ya le has preguntado.

He doesn’t want me to ask him any favors.

No quiere que le pida ningún favor.

You ordered that food and he asked you if you wanted it now.

Pediste esa comida y él te preguntó si la querías ahora.

I don’t think she’ll order that, but they will probably order it.

No creo que ella pida eso, pero ellos probablemente lo pidan.

I don’t want you to ask me this again, the answer is forty-two.

No quiero que me preguntes esto de nuevo, la respuesta es cuarenta y dos.

She wanted to ask you if you are fifty-five or fifty-six years old.

Ella quería preguntarte si tienes cincuenta y cinco o cincuenta y seis años.

I don’t want to ask you to do this.

No quiero pedirte que hagas esto.

If you ask me about this, it won’t be fifty dollars, it’ll be fifty-one.

Si me preguntas sobre esto, no serán cincuenta dólares, serán cincuenta y uno.

I’m only asking you for a favor.

Solo te pido un favor.

I have asked for fifty-one things.

He pedido cincuenta y una cosas.

You have to ask him if they’re ordering that.

Tienes que preguntarle si piden eso.

They won’t ask for a favor, unless you ask for it.

No van a pedir un favor, a menos que tú lo pidas.

She has been asking if I have made a decision yet.

Ha estado preguntando si ya he tomado una decisión.

Ask him if it’s fine before you request that I do it.

Pregúntale si está bien antes de pedirme que lo haga.

I don’t have to ask you your age, I know it’s forty.

No tengo que preguntarte tu edad, sé que es cuarenta.

We only request that you be here before five.

Solo te pedimos que estés aquí antes de las cinco.

I wonder if the kids nowadays know this kind of thing.

Me pregunto si los niños de hoy en día saben este tipo de cosas.

You have to ask him for this favor; I already asked him it and he told me no.

Tienes que pedirle este favor; yo ya se lo pedí y me dijo que no.

I only asked what was the reason for this.

Solo pregunté cuál era el porqué de esto.

I want him to ask her if it is forty-five or fifty-seven.

Quiero que le pregunte si son cuarenta y cinco o cincuenta y siete.

She didn’t order the same thing that they ordered.

No pidió lo mismo que ellos pidieron.

She was asking the same thing I was asking.

Ella preguntaba lo mismo que yo preguntaba.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/187.

In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn some handy new adjectives, including the words for “next”, “different”, and “normal”.

This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Michael Agudelo. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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