Should I be asking my question to or of you?

Jim   Thu Sep 28, 2006 4:37 am GMT
Compare the following ...

A1) "I asked a question of him."
A2) "Do you want to ask a question of me?"
A3) "She's going to ask a question of him."

... to these alternatives.

B1) "I asked a question to him."
B2) "Do you want to ask a question to me?"
B3) "She's going to ask a question to him."

Which do you prefer? Which do do you? Do they both sound okay to you? As for me, I'd only ever use the As never the Bs. The Bs just sound off to me. It seems, though, that the Bs are used by a number of people. Of course you could just say ...

C1) "I asked him a question."
C2) "Do you want to me ask a question?"
C3) "She's going to ask him a question."

... and this'd actually be how I'd usually put it but this is a different issue.
Robin   Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:51 am GMT
Dear Jim

I have looked at your previous Topic, and some of the things you are asking seem to be splitting hairs.

However in this series, there seem to be one or two actual mistakes.

These sound better:

E1) "I asked him."

E2) "Do you want to ask me?"

E3) "She's going to ask him."
Robin   Thu Sep 28, 2006 8:59 am GMT
"What are you asking of me?"

"Have you a question to ask me?

"to me"

"of me"

"to you"

"of me"

"Is there something that you would like to say to me?"

"What more of me, do you want?"

"Is there something I can do to you?"

"Is there anything more of me, that you want?
dingdong   Thu Sep 28, 2006 5:34 pm GMT
Hi Robin: what does "splitting hairs" mean?
Jim   Mon Oct 02, 2006 12:38 am GMT

C2) "Do you want to ask me a question?"

To split hairs, accroding to the Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms, "is to argue about whether details that are not important are exactly correct".*1+0

My previous topic was right?

Yes, Robin, but these are hairs that I've felt like splitting for quite some time now. I've been running across thinks like this which sound odd to my ears.

Your alternatives will work just as well as long as it's understood that you mean "ask a question" but consider these.

C1*) "I asked him a tricky question."
C2*) "Do you want to ask me another question?"
C3*) "She's going to ask him a difficult question."
Jim   Mon Oct 02, 2006 2:58 am GMT
The "is" should be outside of the inverted commas.
Uriel   Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:24 am GMT
I would always ASK a question OF someone, unless I was PUTTING a question TO them. But you can't "ask to" someone.
Guest   Thu Oct 05, 2006 11:55 am GMT
But some/many people would interpret: "To ask a question OF someone" as to ask a question ABOUT that person, which is different to what you're intending.

So the "of" there isn't something I'd be keen to use.
Uriel   Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:44 pm GMT
No, in the context Jim describes, you wouldn't be likely to have that confusion. Besides, "of" is simply the correct word, and there's no reason to avoid that construction -- it's a perfectly natural thing to say.
Jim   Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:22 am GMT
Nor would I have that confusion & for the same reason.
Guest   Fri Oct 06, 2006 3:53 am GMT
I avoid it as it has created confusion and sounds old-fashioned.

"Ask you a question" is the popular form; it's simple and more direct. It's a much better form to teach ESL students.
Jim   Fri Oct 06, 2006 4:01 am GMT
There are many types of ESL students. "Ask you a question" may be best for beginners but what about the more advanced students who are making connexions such as the following?

#C1) Give him a present.
#A1) Give a present to him.

#C2) Bake him a cake.
#A2) Bake a cake for him.
Guest   Fri Oct 06, 2006 6:19 am GMT
Those are fine but "asking a question of someone" is something I rarely hear. It's something I might see in old literature or fancied up writing. Would you really "ask a question of me"? Please, just "ask me a question".
Jim   Fri Oct 06, 2006 7:02 am GMT
True but it's not unsual to get an ESL student who is overly keen and asks such tricky questions of the teacher.
Uriel   Tue Oct 10, 2006 3:18 am GMT
I don't think it's old-fashioned.