This is from a webpage :

The monarchy wants to present itself as a modern and diverse institution. Its supporters say that it is important in diplomacy, but others ask if it is really necessary these days and how much it costs.

I looked up 'ask' and 'question' in the Oxford Learner's Dictionaries and unlike the word 'question', among the definitions of 'ask', there were no meanings that were the same as the verb 'doubt'.

I wonder if it would be appropriate to use 'ask' instead of 'question' in that context if the writer intended to mean 'doubt'.

1 Answer 1


I'd say the OLD has missed that particular definition, because you are absolutely correct. In the context you give, "ask" certainly can be used to express doubt, in particular where it is fairly clear that the implied question is rhetorical, as in:

Really? Do you really think the the monarchy is necessary these days?

And there's an even stronger colloquial use of "ask", with the same rhetorical meaning, in the form "I ask you." For example:

The monarchy? Still necessary? Oh, come on, that's ridiculous. I mean...I ask you!

Forms of words like these trade on ambiguity--leaving the listener thinking, "I'm pretty sure that's not a genuine question...but I might be wrong". Often, that fuzziness is exactly what is desired by the author.

  • Thank you very much.
    – user157844
    Commented May 16, 2023 at 3:42

You must log in to answer this question.