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We were playing a game. A random person was given a word and that person had to "make" or "come up" with a question with the help of that word. That person could [then] ask* that question to anyone.

Ex. Whenever he "asked her to do" anything for him she refused.

Question 1: We know ask should not be followed by "To" so what is the way to construct this sentence properly?

Question 2: *In my introduction, where I have the asterisk, should I have used "could ask" or "could have asked"?

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  • 1) I would have stuck with "could ask" since the rest of your paragraph had used simple past. 2) The "Whenever" sentence is fine because it's "ask + pronoun + to infinitive," which is the construction you should use when "asking someone to do something." 3) Funnily enough, the two things you ask about are fine, but the things you don't ask about need some work. You have an instance of past continuous where you don't need it, a couple of typos (including a missing word), some formatting that I'll fix up later, and...(cont'd.) Feb 16, 2017 at 7:45
  • (Cont'd.)...4) This is probably two questions in one. One about "could ask" versus "could have asked" and another about "asking someone to do something." Feb 16, 2017 at 7:45
  • Why do you say "ask" should not be followed by "to"?
    – urnonav
    May 29, 2018 at 20:46
  • [,,,] could then ask anyone a question
    – Lambie
    Apr 27, 2021 at 23:04

2 Answers 2

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"That person could then ask* that question to anyone" sounds very natural. It indicates that the follow-up questions can only be asked after the person was given the random word, and the tense in the sentence is correct. "Could have asked" sounds like you are saying that in the past, the people were given the chance to ask follow up questions, and may or may not have done so. To me, it almost sounds like they did NOT ask questions, just that they were given that option. For instance, if I said "I could have gone to the mall," the assumption is I was given the choice to go to the mall but did not.

For your first question, I don't understand which sentence you need correcting on? If it's the example sentence, that sentence is correct. It's true that you would not say "I asked to her," but in your case you said "I asked her to do" "To do" is the infinitive form of "do" and it is used perfectly correctly in this sentence.

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  • But we never say "Can I ask this question to you." Or "I ask this question to you or him."
    – Ryoryu
    Feb 16, 2017 at 9:47
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The correct phrasing would be "ask a question of anyone". This Ngram graph shows that this expression is reasonably widely used.

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