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Language tip of the week: ask questions

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of language tips to accompany the Real Vocabulary theme we look at how you can expand your vocabulary in English by using different words and expressions instead of core vocabulary items.

This week’s tip looks at words and phrases you can use instead of ask.



inquire or enquire to ask someone for information about something:
Why don’t you phone the theatre and inquire about tickets? ♦ I am writing to inquire whether you have any vacancies in September. ♦ ‘What’s for dinner?’ Brian inquired.
demand to ask something in a very firm way:
‘What do you want?’ she demanded. ♦ MPs demanded to know the reason for the delay.
question someone to ask someone a lot of questions to find out what they know or what they think about something:
Interviewers questioned 1033 people between the 23rd and 26th of August. ♦ I wish people would stop questioning me about what happened. ♦ A man is being questioned by detectives about the murder of a young girl.
interrogate someone to ask someone, especially a prisoner or a suspect, a lot of questions in an angry or threatening way, in order to get information:
The suspects were interrogated for four days before being released. ♦ You have no right to interrogate me about my private life.
cross-examine someone to ask someone a lot of questions, usually in an unfriendly way:
I don’t like being cross-examined about my political views!
Note: cross-examine also means to ask a witness questions during a trial after another lawyer has already asked them questions.
grill someone or give someone a grilling to ask someone a lot of questions over a long period of time, especially in order to make them explain their actions, decisions or opinions:
Police investigators grilled him about his movements on the day of the crime. ♦ Both party leaders were given a 30-minute grilling by a team of interviewers.

Did you know that Macmillan Dictionary includes a full thesaurus? This page lists more synonyms for the verb ‘ask‘.

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Liz Potter

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