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Ask vs. Asked
Wednesday, June 20, 2007   8:59 AM

Back in the trenches, editing mystery shopper reports on the side. It's respectable fun if you've got a real job too.

One issue I find myself dealing with quite often is ask/asked confusion.

Through the magic of state-coded writer I.D.s, I can even tell you that it's writers from Mississippi and Alabama who seem to have the most trouble with this. Many of them use ask as the past tense version with remarkable consistency, so I'm fairly sure they aren't just making thousands of unintentional mistakes.

This problem is so common that our company actually has a standard coaching note for it:

Please note that when using the word 'ASK' in the past tense, the proper spelling is 'ASKED'. Ex: She asked me if I was finding what I needed.

That's how you write a coaching note when differing correctness conditions seem impossible to you. Here's my reactive grammar remix:

Please note that when using the word 'ASK' in the past tense, the [company] stylebook prefers the form 'ASKED'. Ex: She asked me if I was finding what I needed.

Note to would-be linguists: an electronic archive of hundreds of thousands of state-coded mystery shopper reports, like, say, the one my company has, would probably make a kickass corpus.

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