Pedir vs Preguntar – To Ask in Spanish

Both pedir and preguntar mean ‘to ask’. But even though these words share the same English translation, in Spanish, they are applied in different contexts. Since they’re not synonymous, many Spanish speakers wonder what’s the difference between pedir and preguntar in Spanish. 

In Spanish, ‘preguntar’ is used when inquiring someone for information or when asking a question. ‘Pedir’ also means ‘to ask’, but it refers to requesting someone for an object, favor or to do an action. ‘Pedir’ is a synonym of ‘to order’, ‘to request’ and ‘to demand’. 

For many Spanish learners, ‘pedir’ and ‘preguntar’ are easily confused. However, since they’re used for different purposes, making a mistake will affect your fluency. For that reason, in the following sections, we’ll discuss the difference between these words and when to apply each verb, respectively. 

We’ll provide you with the contexts, some phrase structures and real-life examples, so you have a better understanding of when and how to use these words. By the end of this, you should be able to tell yourself the difference between ‘pedir’ and ‘preguntar’. 

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What’s the Difference Between ‘Pedir’ and ‘Preguntar’?

In Spanish, depending on the context, ‘to ask’ can either be pedir or preguntar. But these verbs are not synonyms. In fact, they are applied in different contexts and for different purposes. Preguntar is used when inquiring information about something. 

¿Preguntaste cuánto cuesta este reloj?
Did you ask how much this clock is?

Voy a preguntarle a esas personas dónde estamos
I’m going to ask those people where we are

On the other hand, pedir is closer in meaning to ‘order’, ‘request’ or ‘demand’. As a result, we use this verb when asking someone for an object or to do something.

¿Te puedo pedir un favor, Ben?
Can I ask you for a favor, Ben?

¿Qué es esto? Te pedí que compraras cilantro, no perejil 
What is this? I asked you to buy cilantro not parsley 

Now that you have a general idea of the difference between these verbs, let’s see how and when to use them. 

How & When to Use Preguntar in Spanish

In Spanish, ‘to ask’ means preguntar when someone is inquiring or asking information about something: prices, questions, schedules, etc. Here is a basic phrase structure that you can use as well as some examples that can help you:

[Preguntar conjugated] + [information]

Laura, preguntaste a qué hora abren la tienda?
Laura, did you ask what time the store opens?

Pregúntale a esa señora dónde está el museo.
Ask that lady where the museum is.

Yo no he visto tu cartera, pregúntale a tu papá.
I haven’t seen your wallet, ask your dad.

No preguntamos si tienen refresco al tiempo.
We didn’t ask if they have soda at room temperature.

Take Note: This is a very basic phrase structure. When using ‘preguntar’, your sentence may include questioning words (cuándo, qué, dónde), prepositions (a) and indirect pronouns (to refer to the person you’re asking). Notice that the position of the indirect pronoun varies depending on the conjugation. 

Preguntar can also be working with other verbs. Notice that in this case ‘preguntar’ may be in the infinitive form:

¿Les puedo preguntar algo?
Can I ask you something?

Espérame, voy a preguntar cuánto cuesta esa playera.
Wait, I’m going to ask how much that T-shirt is.

Se nos olvidó preguntar si tienen comida vegetariana.
We forgot to ask if they have vegetarian food.

To ask a question – Hacer una pregunta

Even though ‘preguntar’ is the direct translation of ‘to ask’, we never say preguntar una pregunta (to ask a question). In order to avoid this redundancy, we say ‘hacer una pregunta’ or simply ‘preguntar’.

¿No me escuchaste? Te hice una pregunta You didn’t listen to me? I asked you a question

La maestra me hizo algunas preguntas difíciles The teacher asked some difficult questions

How & When to Use Pedir in Spanish

Pedir also means ‘to ask’. But unlike ‘preguntar’, ‘pedir’ could also be translated as ‘to request’, ‘to order’ or ‘to demand’. As a result, we use this verb when:

  • Asking for a favor, requirements or object – (to ask/to request)
  • Asking someone to do something – (to ask/to demand)
  • Ordering goods, products or food – (to order)

Since ‘to order’ doesn’t overlap with ‘preguntar’, we won’t talk about this meaning in this article. 

As a synonym of ‘to ask’, we use ‘pedir’ when requesting that someone either do us a favor, for an object or to simply do an action. Here is a basic phrase structure that you can use:

(Indirect pronoun) + [pedir conjugated] + [information]

¿Ya pediste la cuenta?
Did you already ask for the bill?

¿No me pediste que comprara chocolates?
Didn’t you ask me to buy chocolates?

Te pedí que llevaras estas cosas a tu cuarto
I asked you to take your things to your room

Alexander y Jonathan nos pidieron ayuda con su tarea
Alexander and Jonathan asked us for help with their homework

No me voy a cambiar de departamento, me piden muchos requisitos
I’m not going to change apartments, they asked me for too many requirements 

You can also use ‘pedir’ with other verbs. Notice that in this context, ‘pedir’ will need to be in infinitive form: 

Disculpa, ¿te puedo pedir otra talla?
Excuse me, can I ask for another size?

¿A qué hora vamos a pedir la cuenta
When are we going to ask for the bill?

Si no le gusta el producto, puede venir y pedir un reembolso
If you don’t like the product, you can come and ask for reimbursement

Wrapping Up

For some Spanish learners, pedir and preguntar can be confusing since they both mean ‘to ask’. But, even though they may share the same translation, these Spanish verbs have different purposes that prevent you from using them interchangeably. 

That’s why in this article we discussed the difference between ‘pedir’ and ‘preguntar’. We mentioned that ‘preguntar’ is closely related to ‘to inquire’ and ‘pedir’ to ‘to request’ or ‘to demand’. Here is a quick reminder. 

VerbWhen to UseEnglishSpanish
PreguntarWhen inquiring about information or asking a question.Did someone ask the price of the tickets? 
¿Alguien preguntó el precio de los boletos?
PedirAsking someone for:
A Favor
To do something
An Object / Requirements
Did someone ask the weather for the bill?¿Alguien le pidió la cuenta al mesero?

Hopefully, now you’re ready to start using these verbs in your conversations. 

Related Resource: Pedir Vs Preguntar Quiz

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I've been studying Spanish professionally as well as teaching it in Mexico and online for over 10 years. I’ve taught Spanish to a wide array of foreigners from many backgrounds. Over the years, I've made it my mission to work hard on refining many challenging to understand grammar topics to make my students' learning experiences easier, faster and more enjoyable. Read More About Me

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