To ask someone to do something in Spanish, we normally use the verb pedir (to ask in this context). This is how it works if we express it in El Pretérito Imperfecto, El Pretérito Indefinido or El Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto:
De pequeña, yo siempre pedía a mis padres que me dejaran ver la tele hasta tarde.When I was little, I always used to ask my parents to let me watch TV until late.
El ladrón me pidió que le diera todo mi dinero.The thief asked me to give him all my money.
Susana nos había pedido que cuidásemos de su hija.Susana had asked us to look after her daughter.
Notice how in English what is asked is expressed with an infinitive:
"The thief asked me to give him all my money"
while in Spanish we use El Pretérito Imperfecto Subjuntivo, after "que":
"El ladrón me pidió que le diera/diese todo mi dinero."
The verb in El Pretérito Imperfecto Subjuntivo after que will be conjugated in the person who is asked, in this case "I" (The thief asked me...)
Careful: You cannot omit "que"
With "pedir" you will generally find an indirect object pronoun (me, te, le, nos, os, les) in this type of sentence as one normally asks "someone" to do something, e.g "me pidió que...", "les había pedido que..." or an indirect object always using "a", e.g "Ella pedía a su hermano que...", "yo nunca pedí a Antonio que...". In English there is no need to use a preposition: "He asked Laura..." but in Spanish you do need "a": "Le pidió a Laura que...".
Be careful not to use the verb "preguntar" (to ask) in this context. You cannot say: "Mi novio me preguntó que fuera/fuese paciente con él."
Using the verb decir as a command
The Spanish verb decir is also used as a command when you want to say for example: they told me/asked me to do something. It generally (but not always) expresses a stronger request than the verb pedir which conveys more politeness.
As with pedir que, decir que, used as a command verb, is always followed by the subjunctive. It's mostly used in past tenses, therefore this will trigger the El Pretérito Imperfecto Subjuntivo:
En la reunión nos dijeron que nos sentáramos y que prestáramos atención.At the meeting they asked us to take a sit and to pay attention.
Te dije que llegases a las tres, no a las tres y media.I told you to arrive at three, not at half three.
Here are other examples:
¿Clara os pidió que donaseis algo para su ONG?Did Clara ask you to donate something to her NGO?
El profesor había pedido a sus padres que viniesen al colegio urgentemente.The teacher had asked his parents to come to the school urgently.
Yo antes nunca te pedía que me ayudaras, pero ahora te necesito.I never used to ask you to help me, but I need you now.
Pedir (in most past tenses) + [a alguien] + que + verb in El Imperfecto de Subjuntivo
See also Pedir followed by the Spanish present subjunctive to ask someone to do something
Also remember that in Spanish there are two possible conjugations for El Pretérito Imperfecto Subjuntivo. To revise this see Conjugate Spanish verbs in the Spanish imperfect subjunctive tense (El Imperfecto de Subjuntivo)
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