You can both “ask” and “pose” a question, but the two words come with different meanings. Let’s look at the differences between the two, as well as how to use either of them in writing or speaking effectively.
Do You Ask Or Pose A Question?
You ask a question when directing it at a specific group or person and expecting an answer. You pose a question when you’re simply putting a question forward but not expecting anyone specific to answer it.
What Does It Mean To “Pose A Question”?
When we “pose a question,” it doesn’t mean the same thing as “asking a question.” “To ask” is a verb that means we’re seeking information (or, in this case, an answer to our question). “To pose” is a verb that means to pause, meaning that we’re waiting while people ponder the information we’ve put forward.
Simply put, we “pose a question” when we’re not expecting an answer. We often leave the question out there for people to think about overtime and potentially come back with a response later.
You might be able to look at some of the greats in history, like Aristotle or Newton. Every time someone like that is mentioned, you might also hear that they “posed a question” that was left for the world to figure out. This means that they put forward an idea or scenario, and then it was up to the rest of the world to try and figure it out when given time to think about it.
“Posing a question” isn’t only for brilliant minds, though. Anyone can pose a question. If no one has a direct answer to something you asked at that moment in time, then you are no longer “asking” but “posing.”
Past Tense Of “Pose A Question”
If you want to talk about “posing a question” in the past tense, it’s easier than you might realize. You don’t have to worry about using the past tense for any words besides “pose.” Since “question” isn’t used as a verb here, we don’t have to use “questioned” for it to be grammatically correct.
“Posed a question” is the past tense form of “pose a question.”
Don’t be tempted to use “pose a questioned” or anything to that degree. We’re not using “question” as a verb, as we’ve said already. Instead, it’s a noun here, which means it’s left in the same form no matter what tense we’re using it in.
Getting your tenses right is one of the most important things to do when you’re learning English. However, it’s also one of the hardest. Even native speakers struggle to get the correct tense form when they’re writing things out. If you can get the hang of this early on, then you’ll be having a great time later down the line when it comes to writing in different tenses.
Examples Of How To Use “Pose A Question” In A Sentence
Rather than simply explaining everything to you about the difference between asking and posing questions, we think the easiest way to learn the differences is to see them first hand. Since most people already know what “asking a question” entails, we’ll focus on examples, including “posing a question” in a sentence.
The context can be anything, so come up with a few of your own if you want to have some fun with it!
- He posed a question the other day during a class. I’m still not entirely sure what the answer could be.
- Some of the greatest minds in history have posed questions that we will never know the answer to.
- I’ve never posed a question that has left people pondering for a long time.
- You should pose a question to me and see what I can do with it!
- I’d like to pose a question before you all. I’m really interested to hear your ideas on it and what you might do differently.
- Can you pose a question for the class? The more difficult it is to answer, the better.
- They posed a question to me, and I still don’t know what to say about it.
You can use “pose a question” in any tense, and it’s essential to know the difference between your tenses when you are using it. These examples are a great way for you to see where the difference between tenses lies.
It’s also good to notice how each example encourages people to think about the answer to the question rather than answer it outright. “Posed questions” are often more complicated than questions that we ask. They usually don’t have a direct answer or require much thought before anything concrete is said.
Other Ways To Say “Pose A Question”
Are there any other ways to say that you’ve “posed a question,” though? There are more ways than you might first realize. You don’t only have to use this one phrase if you prefer one of these alternatives instead.
- Raise a question
The idea behind this phrase works in the same way as “posing a question” does. Instead of posing, we’re raising. The verb “to raise” is used in the same way, meaning that we’re putting an idea forward, but we’re not expecting anybody to answer our question right away. It’s a good way to allow people to ponder the outcome.
- Pick your brain
This is a colloquial saying used in informal situations. However, the idea is that we pose a question to someone by picking their brain. Picking someone’s brain means you’re running ideas by them to see what they think about them.
- Left to ponder
Leaving someone to ponder something means you’re giving them time to think through a suitable response. This works as a good alternative or synonym to “pose a question” because the same idea is given for the person to think through the question before they ultimately respond.
- Get your perspective
Rather than expecting a direct answer, it is possible to ask for someone’s feedback first. This is the same thing as posing a question, because we’re not outright asking for an answer, but rather wondering how they might respond to your idea.
You may also like: “Address A Question” Meaning (And How It Differs From Answering)
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.