I've just been told that when you want information from a person, you should not use "ask for" just "ask". They're quoting from Longman's Dictionary of Contemporary English. This doesn't appear to be common usage to me (I think that both are used commonly), but even taking into account all the places I've lived, I'm limited. So could be completely incorrect.

"Ask his name." I've seen just from the references he provided a telemarketing manual that literally meant to use the person's name as a question ("Bill?") to gain confidence. I could see how it's still correct as you could ask "your name?" Or "what is your name?" And still fall under this.

"Ask for his name." Make requests about his name. I'm sure there are more interpretations, but seems more straight forward (currently IMO). Granted, irl, I'd probably just say "Get his name."

The sentence we are discussing is "I ask his name" on Duolingo. I opened my mouth too big and have to already clarify and fix my mistakes, but saying that "for" can't be used when asking a person's information doesn't seem to match current usage IMO.

So, which is correct? Are both? Neither?

Thank you for your time.

2 Answers 2


"Ask his name" is wrong, if only because it sounds strange. You want to say either "ask for his name" or "ask him his name" - although the former sounds more natural. The verb to ask requires an indirect object: there is always something you are asking (the direct object) and someone you're asking (the indirect one). The sentence "ask his name" is missing the indirect object.

To see this intuitively, imagine the same construction in other situations. If you were instructing someone to request a pencil, you wouldn't tell them to say "ask a pencil." Your situation is analogous; you're asking someone for information (their name).

There are situations where it is idiomatic to omit the word "for," but they usually involve inviting someone to an event. Ask them to our wedding and ask her out on a date are two examples of this.


The omitted 'for' is understood, and to me is optional - e.g. 'ask (for) a favour'. Similarly 'May I ask (for) your name?' but in this case I would always omit the for. I have been known to reply facetiously: 'No you may not, it is mine and I want to keep it!'. Similarly with 'may I have your name?'

'May I ask what is your name?' is my way to work around the dilemma.


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