I'm studying infinitives and gerunds now, and I found out that the verb "ask" can have a direct object.

For example:

  • I asked to go to the park.
  • I asked my parents to go to the park. (I know that you cannot use "I asked to go to the park to my parents")

But, when we say He asked me for the watch, which is the direct object and the indirect object? AFAIK, the direct object is "for the watch", and the indirect object is "me" as "me" receives the action.

Moreover, I know the difference between reporting:

  • He asked her to leave (1)


  • He asked to leave. (2)

However, if we want to indicate to whom he asked to leave (2), not to whom he "ordered" to leave (1), how can we do that? Maybe, saying: He asked to leave to him. (But as I previously said we cannot use "to" with the verb ask).

Also, when I say: I ask her to leave. Do we just have one object(her) that is the IO, right?

Maybe, I'm very mistaken or the question is not clear, so let me know to edit my question, please.

  • 1
    Note that "I asked my parents to go to the park" doesn't really mean what you think: it means you wanted your parents to go, not that you wanted them to take you or give you permission. Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 10:21

1 Answer 1


With nouns: "He asked me for the watch" The direct object is "me" and "the watch" is an indirect object in the prepositional phrase "for the watch". Syntactically that is clear; the structure is the same as "He put me on the table". Semantically, "me" is the recipient of the action, which makes "me" the direct object.

But "ask" can also be followed by an infinitive clause, and the interpretation of this infinitive clause is idiomatic. "He asked to leave" is a request for permission. The recipient of this request is not specified.

If you need to specify the recipient, you need to use the "for" form with a noun:

He asked me for permission to leave.

In "I ask her to leave" the direct object is "her"

  • I researched more, and I know why in this case "me" is the direct object. It's because of the use of "for" as you said, but in this case, the use of the verb "ask" is in a transitive way, not in the ditransitive, right? I mean we just have one object (the direct one), and "the watch" is the object of the preposition "for". Here is the link: english.stackexchange.com/questions/129081/…, have you any idea, why the change of roles: He asked him (I.O) the time (D.O), He asked him (D.O) for the time?
    – Thunder05
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 5:24
  • That looks to mirror other ditransitive verbs "He gave me a watch" "He gave a watch to me"
    – James K
    Commented Nov 8, 2020 at 5:36

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