Demander: Definition, Conjugation & Synonyms

Instructor: Susan Binkley

Susan has taught college-level French and has a PhD in French studies.

The verb 'demander' means 'to ask' in English. This lesson will show you how to use that verb. We'll look at situations where you might hear it, view the conjugation, and see a few sentences using the verb.

Using the Verb Demander

Oh no--you're lost in Paris! You and your friend Claire have spent the day sightseeing but, you've gotten all turned around and are now lost. It's getting late and you're ready to head back to the hotel. But where's the bus stop? You'll need to ask someone.

Claire says she'll ask the florist she sees on the corner: Je demande (pronounced: zhuh duh mahnd) à la fleuriste, she tells you ('I'll ask the florist').

As you point towards an outdoor café, you reply, Tu demandes (prounounced: too duh mahnd) à la fleuriste, et je demande à la serveuse. ('You ask the florist, and I'll ask the server.')

You go up to the server and ask her where the bus stop is, but unfortunately, she doesn't know and suggests that you ask the police officer across the street: Demandez (pronounced: duh mahn day) à l'agent de police.

But before you ask the police officer, Claire comes up to you and says that she has found the bus stop. Whew! Now that you know where to get on the bus, all you need is the name of the stop closest to your hotel. Paul and Robert are already back at the hotel, so Claire calls them up to ask. Ils demandent (pronounced: eel duh mahnd) à l'hôtelier, she tells you. ('They're asking the hotel clerk.')

Demander means to ask.

Did you notice the forms of demander (pronounced: duh mahn day) that were used? Demander is the infinitive, or basic, form of the verb that means 'to ask.' When we use it with a pronoun such as je to say 'I ask,' we use the appropriate conjugation, je demande, in this case.

Forms of Demander

Let's take a look at demander in the present tense for all the forms. Here's the conjugation chart:

Subject Pronoun Demander Conjugation Pronunciation Translation
je je demande (zhuh duh mahnd) I ask, I am asking
tu tu demandes (too duh mahnd) you ask, you are asking
il/elle/on il/elle/on demande (eel/el/ohn duh mand) he/she asks, he/she is asking
nous nous demandons (noo duh mahn dohn) we ask, we are asking
vous vous demandez (voo duh mahn day) you ask, you are asking
ils/elles ils/elles demandent (eel/el duh mand) they ask, they are asking

The conjugation of demander follows the pattern for other verbs ending in -er. Since this verb fits the normal pattern, we call it a 'regular' -er verb.

Example Sentences with Demander

Let's take a look at examples of the word demander in use based on what we just learned:

  • Demandez à la fleuriste. (Ask the florist.)
  • Je demande à la fleuriste. (I am asking the florist.)
  • Tu demandes à l'agent de police? (Are you asking the police officer?)
  • Paul demande à l'hôtelier. (Paul is asking the hotel clerk.)
  • Ils demandent à l'hôtelier aussi. (They are asking the hotel clerk also.)
  • Tu demandes à Robert, et je demande à Justin. (You ask Robert, and I'm asking Justin.)
  • Claire demande à Diane? (Is Claire asking Diane?)

Grammar of Demander

You may have noticed that in the sentences above, the verb is followed by à. In French, the preposition à is necessary after the form of demander and before the name of the person you're speaking to.

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