1 QUESTION (I, T) to say or write something in order to get an answer, a solution, or information: "What's your name?" she asked. | ask a question: That kid's always asking awkward questions. | ask who/what/where etc: I was only asking how this could have happened. | ask sb sth: She asked an old man the way to the station. | ask sb: Don't ask him - he won't know anything about it. | ask if/whether: Go and ask Pat whether he's coming tonight. | ask (sb) about: Visitors usually ask about the history of the place. | ask around (=ask in a lot of places or ask a lot of people): I'm not sure where you can get a good mechanic - you'd better ask around.
2 FOR HELP ETC (I, T) to make a request for help, advice, information etc: If you need anything, you only have to ask. | ask sb to do sth: Ask John to mail those letters tomorrow. | ask to do sth: Karen asked to see whoever was in charge.
(+ for): Some people find it difficult to ask for help. | ask if you can do sth: Ask your dad if we can borrow his truck. -see request 2
3 PRICE (T) to want a particular amount for money for something you are selling: ask $50/$1,000 etc for: I can't believe he's asking $2,000 for that old car. | ask the earth/a fortune (for) (=ask far too much money for something): They're asking the earth for tickets - we just can't afford it.
4 INVITE (T) to invite someone to your home, to go out with you etc: ask sb out (=ask someone, especially someone of the opposite sex, to go to the theatre, a restaurant etc with you): Jerry's too scared to ask her out. | ask sb in (=invite someone into your house, office etc): Don't leave them standing on the doorstep - ask them in! | ask sb along (=invite someone to go somewhere with you, especially when you are with a lot of other people): Get Bill to ask Sheila along. | ask sb over (=invite someone to come to your home)
5 be asking for it spoken used to say that someone deserves something bad that happens to them: I don't really care he got beat up on - he was asking for it.
6 be asking for trouble to do something that is very likely to have a bad effect or result: He thinks anyone who completely trusts anyone else is asking for trouble.
7 don't ask me spoken used to say you do not know the answer to something: "Where's she gone then?" "Don't ask me!"
8 asking price the price that someone wants to sell something for: At an asking price of just $250, it's got to be a bargain.
9 ask yourself to try to honestly discover the true reason for something: The government should ask itself where the responsibility for this mess really lies.
10 for the asking if you can have something for the asking, you only have to ask for it and you can have it
11 I ask you! spoken used to express surprise at and disapproval of something stupid that someone has done: She sent her kids to camp dressed all in white. I ask you!
-see request 2 USAGE NOTE: ASK WORD CHOICE: ask, want to know, inquire, question, interrogate Ask is the usual verb for questions: "How are you doing?" she asked. | That's a stupid question to ask. Often people use want to know when they are talking about what someone else has asked: He wanted to know where I lived/the train times. Inquire (or enquire BrE) has the same meaning but is more formal, and is not followed by a noun or pronoun object. At a meeting: May I inquire what the committee proposes to do about this?/about the effectiveness of this policy (NOT ...inquire the effectiveness of this policy)? To question a person is to ask them a lot of questions, especially officially, and to interrogate suggests that someone is being held by force and asked questions that they are unwilling to answer, for example by the police or an enemy. GRAMMAR Remember that you do not follow ask with a direct question, unless you are repeating the exact words: Ask what sort of room he would like (NOT Ask what sort of room would he like).| I asked "What sort of room would you like?". You ask people certain things without using for or about: I asked him the way/his name/the price/the time/a favour/permission/his advice (NOT asked to him the way). You usually ask for or about most other things: Ask one of our guides for directions to Lincoln Center. | He asked Sharon for a date (NOT He asked a date to Sharon).| Can I ask you about the exam results? (NOT of the exam results).

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.

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