Isn't it enough to just ask, instead of to ask a question?

Which one should be preferable?

  • I'd say this is less of an English question and more of a personal preference and etiquette question that varies between different countries, cultures, contexts, and people, and probably can't be answered here. – Andrew May 6 '17 at 21:18
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    You need "a question" because ask is transitive. – user178049 May 6 '17 at 22:24
  • @user178049 couldn't​ your comment be an answer? – Luciano May 6 '17 at 22:30
  • @user178049 I think that a verb is transitive does not necessarily mean it has to be followed by an object. Objects can be omitted too. You probably heard "I sing in the bath". – Cardinal May 7 '17 at 6:55
  • @Cardinal It is true that a transitive verb doesn't always followed by a verb, especially in a hollow clause "This is hard to keep_"; fronted object "some thing you like_, but some thing you don't". But "sing" in your example is actually intransitive. – user178049 May 7 '17 at 7:01

"ask" in this particular context is transitive. So it takes an object.

"I ask a question."

ask would be intransitive when you say to (someone) that you want them to do or give something.

"Don't be afraid to ask for advice"

For more, see Oxford Dictionary

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    Yes, indeed you need to specify what you want to ask. A question in this particular context. BTW :+1 – Lucian Sava May 6 '17 at 23:44

If you say

I asked.

people will realize you asked a question, but they will wonder About what? and certainly when one is asking about something one is posing a question.

Ask for permission
Ask for advice
Ask for someone's hand in marriage

In situations like those, the secondary effects are what people are interested in. For example,

P1: Was he asking for directions?
P2: No, just asking a question.

So it is not necessarily redundant to say

I asked a question.

but there is usually additional context which gets added

I asked a question about...

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