So far as I know, the ditransitive verb "to ask" takes two accusatives in German (fragen), and the verb "to give" takes one dative and one accusative in many languages. Is there a language in which the verb "to ask" can be followed by a dative case (assuming that the language has a distinct dative case)?

  • 1
    When does fragen take 2 accusatives in German? It seems one can say either fragen + acc or eine Frage stellen + dat. In most languages that I know, the equivalent of eine Frage fragen sounds oddly redundant. Only in English can it work, because they have different roots. – Adam Bittlingmayer Jun 6 '16 at 5:51
  • This website link gives four verbs taking double accusatives, including the verb "fragen". – discenter Jun 6 '16 at 6:41
  • German wiktionary gives an example :Er fragt sie, ob sie möchte. – discenter Jun 6 '16 at 6:45
  • The use of fragen with double accusative is really marginal. A sentence like *Sie fragt ihn ein Wasser is ungrammatical. The only cases I can think of are Sie fragt ihn etwas (She asks him about something) and the question Was fragt sie ihn? (What is is asking him?) – jk - Reinstate Monica Jul 6 '16 at 13:10
  • @jknappen It doesn't need to be an NP to be an argument of the verb: In the example discenter gave, the subordinate clause can be regarded as the second object, and since you would ask for that sentence with was in accusative, couldn't you say that the clause is an accusative object? – lemontree Jul 6 '16 at 14:44

In Russian, [по]просить, 'to ask', can be followed by the Dative case object, then the meaning is 'to ask for somebody', like it is often used in prayers to saints when you ask a saint that she ask God to give you something, e.g. "Попроси мне и моим близким здоровья", 'Ask for health for me and my family'. Here "мне" 'for me' and "моим близким" 'for my family' are both in Dative, and "здоровья" 'for health' is in Genitive.

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    I think, this is an incorrect example of verb governance. The verb "to ask" governs the noun case for an object who is being asked, not the reason of a request. In other words, "to ask him" (accusative) is correct while "to ask by voice" (instrumental) is incorrect. Also, in English, "to ask" has two meanings (to beg and to question), and the OP definitely means "fragen" (not "bitten"), while your answer is about the meaning, "to beg". – bytebuster Jun 5 '16 at 20:56
  • I agree with @bytebuster that this is not what the question is asking for, add, however, that you have the same construction with Latin posco. For example, Plautus writes: sine dote posco tuam sororem filio “I ask for your sister (acc.) for my son (dat.) without a dowry”. – fdb Jun 7 '16 at 14:28

In French, the recipient of demander ('ask') is dative:

(1) Je  lui   demande de répondre à  cette question.
    1sg 3.DAT ask     of respond  to this  question
    I ask him to respond to this question.

In Late Archaic Chinese, 問 wen ('ask') can subcategorise for a recipient, which is also dative.

(2) 孔子    與   之    坐  而   問  焉
    Kongzi  yu  zhi   zuo er   wen yan
    Kongzi  COM 3.ACC sit CONJ ask 3.DAT
    Confucius sat with him and asked him.

In both cases, the verb can also take an accusative object meaning what is being asked. In addition, the dative case only appears when the recipient is a pronoun; otherwise a prepositional phrase appears, respectively à in French and yu in Late Archaic Chinese.


In contrast to the previous answer in Czech, the verb "zeptat se" is actually being used when you're referring to the object of asking with dativ (but can not be used in the described meaning)

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