poser vs demander

Two verbs that can cause a lot of confusion for students are poser and demander. Both of these verbs mean to ask but they have different usages. In short, poser is used in the context of asking questions while demander is used for asking for things and services. We’ll look at the two verbs in detail in this post.

Before going any further let’s take a quick look at the two verbs in the present tense:

je pose
tu poses
il, elle, on pose
nous posons
vous posez
ils, elles posent
je demande
tu demandes
il, elle, on demande
nous demandons
vous demandez
ils, elles demandent

poser – to ask (a question)

The verb poser means to ask but specifically it’s used in the context of asking questions. Here are some example sentences:

  • Pourrais-je vous poser une question, s’il vous plaît ? May I ask you a question, please?
  • Sylvie pose une question au professor. Sylvie asks the teacher a question.
  • Tu me poses trop de questions ! You asking me too many questions!

You cannot say ‘demander une question‘ for ‘to ask a question’. The verb poser has to be used.

demander – to ask (thing or service)

Demander can be a bit of can of worms. The grammatical structure, ‘demander à qqn de faire qqch‘ means to ask somebody to do something. In addition, ‘demander qqch à qqn‘ means to ask somebody for something’. Demander can also be followed by a direct object. Here are some example sentences:

  • Sylvie demande à Pierre de partir. Sylvie asks Pierre to leave.
  • Pierre demande une augmentation à son patron. Pierre asks for a raise in salary from his boss.
  • Marc demande un service à son patron son ami. Marc asks his friend for a favor.
  • Je vous demande une réponse d’ici vendredi après-midi. I’m asking you for a reply by Friday afternoon.
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