I'd like to know if the objects of the verb 'ask' must follow an order. If so what is that order? Should the first object be the person (someone) or the thing (something)?

For example: Will you ask for that money to your mother? or Will you ask your mother for that money?

  • 1
    You don't "ask money", you "ask a question" or "ask for money". – Peter Shor Sep 27 '13 at 19:24
  • yeah it's true, thank you! I was copying a question from one of my students exercises and I let that one slip. – João Victor Rabelo de Sousa Sep 27 '13 at 19:28
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    Likewise, no matter what you do, you do not ask to your mother. You ask your mother. Transitive. – RegDwigнt Sep 27 '13 at 20:42

In general the order matters to some extent. Consider the following:

Ask for money.
Ask your mother.
Ask Tuesday.
Ask on Tuesday for money.
Ask for money on Tuesday.
Ask your mother for money on Tuesday.
Ask your mother on Tuesday for money.
On Tuesday ask your mother for money.
Ask your mother for money.
Ask for money from your mother.

All the above are understandable.

The last form is rather ambiguous, you could be asking your brother to give you money that came from your mother. The penultimate sentence is preferable.

So, most often, You'd place the recipient of the request earlier in the sentence than what is being requested. Usually the recipient of the request would be first.

There are definitely preferred orders for sentences of this form but I don't know of any firm rules.


This is a transitive, but not bitransitive, use of the verb ask. I.e, it means 'request', rather than 'address a question to someone', and it has only a direct object, rather than bitransitive ask, which has both direct and indirect objects.

  • She asked Harry what the answer was.
    (bitransitive: Harry = indirect object, what the answer was = direct object)
  • She asked Harry for some help with her homework.
    (transitive: Harry = direct object)

The thing that's requested is the object of for, and in fact if the object is indefinite, obvious, or irrelevant, it can be deleted, making ask for effectively equivalent to request.

  • She asked for/requested some help with her homework.
  • Ask can even be tritransitive, am I correct? She asked Harry for the dirty on her husband. – Talia Ford Sep 27 '13 at 21:52
  • @Talia Ford: No - here, for instance, 'on her husband' is an adjectival modifying 'the dirty'. This example isn't even ditransitive. Compare She asked Harry for some news about her husband. with She asked Harry for some help with her homework. above. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 27 '13 at 22:23
  • There are no tritransitive verbs, to my knowledge, in any language. 1, 2, or 3 arguments, that's it. (Well, there are impersonals like It's raining that have no arguments; but that's a very small set of constructions.) For details see the Logic Guide and the Verb Phrase Guide – John Lawler Sep 27 '13 at 22:32
  • I thank both of you for being forthcoming. Respect. (I also feel a little stupid, but that's okay. Live to learn and you'll learn to live.) – Talia Ford Sep 27 '13 at 23:12
  • No need to feel stupid; grammar is complicated stuff, and most English speakers are clueless about it because it's not taught in Anglophone schools. – John Lawler Sep 27 '13 at 23:14

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