What is the difference between questioned and asked?

I asked him how are you?

I questioned him how are you?

Will the two sentences have a different meaning if I use questioned instead of asked?

I think the difference may be in politeness because asked looks more polite than questioned.

1 Answer 1


Both sentences are incorrect.

I asked him how are you?

has to be either:

I asked him how he was. (Indirect question)
I asked him, "How are you?" (Direct question)


I questioned him how are you?

has to be

I questioned him about how he was.

But this is a strange usage. When you question: VERB, def. #2 someone, it's usually about a crime, an accident, or some other significant event, and in that case, the right word is usually interrogate. The person being questioned is either a suspect, or a known perpetrator, or a witness who can provide material evidence, character evidence, or background information about the event.

The difference isn't that one word is more or less polite than the other, but that they are used to say two different things.

  • 2
    I agree with Bill and would add that asking can be informal or formal, but questioning is certainly formal and is also more thorough and intensive.
    – TrevorD
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 16:38
  • 3
    You could also use it in the sense of 'questioning authority' - Workers questioned whether the managers had any backing for their new regulations.
    – Mynamite
    Commented May 11, 2013 at 17:13

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