What Is The Difference between Ordenar, Pedir, and Preguntar?

Ordenar, Pedir, and Preguntar

How confusing this is! I know, I live it every month because every month someone asks me about this. So it’s time to clarify it for you too. On the one hand, we’ll talk about ‘Pedir’ and ‘Ordenar,’ and on the other, ‘Preguntar’ and ‘Pedir.’ The problem is actually not one, but two: ‘To Ask’ in Spanish and ‘To Order’ in Spanish.

The first thing we need to understand is that we can’t expect every word in one language to have an exact equivalent in the language we’re studying. This might happen with many nouns, with objects, right? This is easier. And of course, the difficulty lies in the native English speaker understanding that for a native Spanish speaker, ‘Pedir un favor a alguien’ is not the same as ‘Preguntar algo a alguien.’ For the native English speaker, everything is ‘To Ask,’ but not for us.


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Similarly, a Spanish speaker uses the same verb to say ‘I tidied my room’ as when saying ‘I arranged my notes by date.’ In these concepts of what is the same for one and what is different for others is where we need to focus. Once understood, we won’t make mistakes.

So in this video, I’m going to address this topic. How? Well, first we’re going to look at the first pair of verbs that cause problems.

‘Ordenar’ vs. ‘Pedir’: What’s the difference between these Spanish verbs?

What does the RAE (Royal Spanish Academy) say about these two verbs and their meanings? I’m going to read it to you in the video and translate it into English. You’ll see that there are two meanings for each of them. However, in no case do we ‘order food’ with the verb ‘ordenar.’ This is a mistake. If you live in the United States or Canada, you might sometimes hear the Spanglish ‘ordenar’ in these contexts, I’m not saying you won’t. What I am saying is that it is incorrect, hahaha. I understand, when I lived in the United States, it was very easy to hear Spanglish words and end up using them without realizing it. There comes a point in the minds of Spanish speakers living there where you no longer distinguish well, and the reality is that conversations in Spanglish are hilarious. The thing is, on one hand, I am a teacher and I must correct it, of course. But on the other hand, I am human, and some of the words used by Hispanics there are fun, of course!

So let’s look at different examples of when to use ‘ordenar’ and when to use ‘pedir,’ as well as when not to use them.

And of course, another question is going to arise in your mind: Are ‘Pedir’ and ‘Preguntar’ the same verb?

They really are not, although they have some points in common.

What does ‘Pedir’ or ‘Preguntar’ mean? What’s the difference between ‘PEDIR’ and ‘PREGUNTAR’ in Spanish?

In this last part of the video, we are going to address the contexts in which ‘Pedir’ and ‘Preguntar’ can be used for very similar messages, although they involve different structures. You can say ‘Voy a preguntar a mi compañero de trabajo si puede bajar el aire acondicionado un poco’ or ‘Voy a pedir a mi compañero de trabajo que baje el aire acondicionado un poco.’ In the video, if you want and have time, it’s only ten minutes, I promise, I will explain it with examples so you can solve your doubts like ‘Do I need to preguntar if I have a Pedir?’

What are you waiting for to spend a few minutes informing yourself about what is the difference between ‘ordenar,’ ‘Pedir,’ and ‘preguntar,’ and start using them correctly?

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