This may seem like a fairly straight forward subject for the more advanced student of the Spanish language, yet it should not be underestimated.
There are a number of issues that come along with these two verbs and because of that, we often hear our students committing errors when they formulate sentences with them.
Firstly, perhaps many of you know that PEDIR means TO ASK FOR. Whilst PREGUNTAR simply means TO ASK in Spanish.
So when we want to make a sentence like:
I want to ask for a map. = Yo quiero pedir un mapa.
It’s very easy for us to choose PEDIR.
And when we want to say:
I’m going to ask. = Yo voy a preguntar.
It’s obvious that we should choose PREGUNTAR.
Test your Spanish.
But what about when we want to ask in Spanish the following question. Which verb should we use?
I wonder, should I ask the gentleman over in the corner with the brown jacket and black trousers for directions to the town centre?
Now, which verb should we use, PREGUNTAR or PEDIR?
Decide now before reading on.
Sometimes it’s not so clear due to the way we structure our sentence. We are listening for a clear “ASK” or “ASK FOR” and so we can be tricked into thinking that we should use PREGUNTAR when we really should be using PEDIR.
If you chose PEDIR…muy bien hecho.
If you chose PREGUNTAR, look at the sentence again.
I wonder if I should ask the gentleman over in the corner with the brown jacket and black trousers for directions to the town centre.
So, as you can see, sometimes the words “ask for” are separated by other information and yet we must be aware of them.
And then the redundant pronouns…
To add a little confusion into the pot, when we use these verbs we have to be concious of the need to use the pronouns in third person EVEN IF YOU MENTION THE PERSONS NAME.
Now, before you go cross eyed and close this page down, don’t worry too much about this. It sounds complicated but it really isn’t so difficult. We have already covered this in our previous podcasts.
If you are not sure about what we are talking about, take a look at these two podcasts: (Unfortunately they are in Spanish only)
Our best advice is to listen in to the podcast and take from it what you can get. There’s something for every level. Remember, Spanish is learnt through a process of little steps and not with one big leap. Some things you hear this time may not fit into the puzzle until much later. That’s very normal.
Pues, buena suerte chicos. Esperamos que os guste y que os valga.
Gordon y Cynthia 🙂