Ask versus Request

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1972 edition, lists the word “ask” and only a verb. I haven’t looked in a newer print dictionary. Maybe I should do that.

When did that happen? Am I the only one who thinks it’s odd? How did a very solid verb seemingly suddenly become a noun? And why? Especially when we’ve always had a perfectly fine noun for that very thing.

I’m talking about two words: ask and request.

Being the kind of person that I am, I decided to do a little research. I love the Internet.

I requested the definition of the word “ask” to begin with. The first definition given listed it as a verb, which in my mind it is and shall forever be only and solely that. Call me old-fashioned.

And, yes, I am stubborn too. Although, I don’t have a problem with adding new words into the English language. And yes, I know that language is fluid and changes by usage. Okay, so yeah. This is a pet peeve of mine.

Along with listing “ask” as a verb, the online source I looked at also listed a definition of it as a noun with the notation that it is only used that way in the good old United States of America. Specifically it said “a request, especially for a donation.” And the example, “It was an awkward ask for more funding,” was given. And see, even Microsoft Word doesn’t want anyone to use “ask” in that way. When I typed in the quote of the example, MS Word underscored the word “ask” with a green line. The program didn’t really know what to do with it. It thought it should be “asks.”

I’m sorry, but I’m never going to get onboard with using “ask” in this way.

Request would seem to me to be more than adequate. It is both a verb and a noun. Always has been. Why do we need to misappropriate the word “ask” when we already have “request?”

I would like to note that in the definitions for both the verb request and the noun request, the issue of politeness was addressed:  “an act of asking politely or formally for something” for the noun and “politely or formally ask for” for the verb.

That alone recommends to me that using “request” instead of “ask” is a much better choice. I think that relationships of all kinds can always use a little more politeness. Don’t you?

Published by Dianne Lehmann

I'm a writer. But I'm also a wife and a mom to a couple of fur babies. You could call me a cook (but never a chef, I'm not that good) and provisioner as well. Laundress? Yeah. Probably. I design jewelry and I crochet. But mostly I love to write. I love words and how they sound. I love their meanings and origins. I love stringing them together. And of course, I love to read. Thinking about it just now, I realize that what I love most is life and the people around me with a special place set aside for my wonderful husband, our adorable dog and our inscrutable cat. It's the world and the people in it that fuels my writing. So thanks to you all for being the amazing beings that you are.

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