"The teacher asks the boys about something."
Translation:La instruisto demandas la knabojn pri io.
I would describe this as "technically possible" - but it's nothing you'd see in practice. The only sentence I found that was even close was something like:
La instruisto demandas al la knaboj nur tion, ĉu ili faris la hejmtaskojn.
The teacher asks the boys only whether they'd done their homework.
In that case "tion" is added to make the function of "nur" more clear. Otherwise, you'd simply say
- La instruisto demandis al la knaboj ĉu ili faris le hejmtaskojn.
Properly, demandi is a transitive verb and requires an object. It is unlike the English verb "ask," which is both transitive and intransitive. Moreover, "ask" in English has mutliple meanings and can take different kinds of objects. Some examples: (1) put a question to; inquire of; "I asked her." (2) request information about; "Ask the way." (3) call for; need; "This experiment asks patience."
The Esperanto verb "demandi" has only meaning (1) of "ask" and "demandi al" is a corruption from outside Esperanto.
http://vortaro.net/#demandi - demand/i (tr) Peti pri sciigo, informo: demandi iun pri io
@BillEverett: Your answer seems definitive, but how do I know that it is? You write that "'demandi al' is a corruption from outside Esperanto" Is that definitive? I'd be really grateful to know, either by consensus or unilateral edict, whether that entire quoted statement is true.
Or, as AustinSegal so brilliantly asked, does "demandi" take a direct object?
Thanks in advance for any cogent answers.
Well, re-reading my own answer all these months later, I'm not sure. :-)
The normal pattern is demandi iun pri io -- that is, the direct object is the person asked.
You will also see demandi al iu....
And in questions, the direct object is often the thing askd. "Kion li demandis?"
Which am I more likely to hear from proficient Esperantists?
(1) La instruisto demandas la knabojn pri io.
(2) La instruisto demandas al la knaboj pri io.
(3) La instruisto demandas pri io la knabojn.
(4) La instruisto demandas pri io al la knaboj.
Or, are they equally correct and equally likely to be used by proficient Esperantists?
I'm not sure my posts address which is more common or likely to be heard. I'd seen this question but chose not to respond, mostly because my sense is that this kind of question is best answered through experience, as in Esperanto Variety Show's recent post: