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Pedir and Ordenar

This week teacher Carolina shares a video lesson on three different verbs: pedirpreguntar, and ordenar. From what she tells us, the verbs pedir and ordenar have very similar meanings and uses and, in certain contexts, it's not always easy to decide which one to use. Let's review some examples of these two verbs to complement Carolina's video lesson!


The most common way to order food in a restaurant is to use the verb pedir (to ask):


Aquí, por lo regular, por lo... económico, piden la comida corrida.

Here, generally, because it's... cheap, people order the lunch special.

Captions 36-37, Fonda Mi Lupita - Encargado

 Play Caption


However, perhaps due to an influence from English, using the verb ordenar (whose primary meaning is "to command" but also means "to put in order") has become a popular way to order food or products in Spanish:

Estamos ordenando tres tacos y una ensalada.
We are ordering three tacos and a salad.

Si ordenas hoy mismo recibirás un descuento.
If you place your order today, you will get a discount.

Estamos listos para ordenar.
We are ready to order.

¿Qué quieren ordenar?
What do you want to order?

In the previous examples, you can use either ordenar or pedir without altering the meaning of what you are saying. In some contexts, however, you can't use ordenar instead of pedir. For example, you can say Quiero pedir un descuento (I want to ask for a discount), but not Quiero ordenar un descuento (I want to order a discount); you can say Quiero pedir un favor (I want to ask a favor), but to say Quiero ordenar un favor (I want to order a favor) is an obvious contradiction.

Finally, it's worth remembering that the verb ordenar also means "to put in order" and "to command":


¡Vos no sabés,

You have no idea,

estuve media hora ordenando todo el departamento!

I spent half an hour organizing the whole apartment!

Caption 21, Muñeca Brava - 8 Trampas

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No, señora. Usted no me ordenó nada.

No, ma'am. You didn't order me [to do] anything.

Caption 69, Muñeca Brava - 44 El encuentro

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