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I would like to know whether the sentence right below is correct, and if not, how it can be corrected. I learnt and know that the preposition to doesn't go with the verb ask as in the pattern ask something to a person.

May I suggest or ask something to you?

That sentence is in an attempt to combine the two things(suggest something to you, ask something of you), in order to shorten the time of asking as the situation is busy, and you is deliberately mentioned as an emphasis not to be heard lightly. Let's say, right after a meeting ends, I catch the person and ask that individually before he or she leaves.

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You are correct that ask is not used with to. You might "ask somebody something", if it's a question, or "ask something of somebody" if it's a request. Combining two verbs with alternation does not generally allow you to mess with pronoun usage in that way. You always want a pronoun that goes with the last verb in the list, and usually it will want to go with the first verb as well. That would be difficult in this case. Just miss off the prepositional phrase if you want to say this.

Also, saying "suggest or ask" in that way is a little puzzling. The two aren't that similar as concepts.

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Where part of an elided sentence doesn't follow the same parallel structure as another part that has not been elided, it's normally a mistake to use it.

This is the full form of the sentence:

May I suggest something to you or ask something of you?

But the elided form in the question only provides a single preposition, which, if expanded, would result in ask something to you, which is wrong. So, it needs to be rephrased.


The simplest way of rephrasing it, especially if you are talking directly to a single person, is just:

May I suggest or ask something?

This drops the use of to you, making it up to the person to fill in the missing information with the correct prepositions.


But if you don't want to make it that simple, then you have to do something else—use a parallel conjunction:

May I suggest or ask something to or of you?

This is still shorter than the original—removing one instance of something and one instance of you—but, because of the two different prepositions, cannot be as short as the sentence in the question.

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