Both words stellen and fragen have the meaning to ask. Is there any rule, when to use each of those words ? Or are they complete synonyms and can be freely switched ?

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    You are mistaken here. "stellen" is not synonymous to "ask". But "stellen" is a verb that accompanies "Frage": "Er stellt eine Frage." => "He asks a question." – Stefan Schroeder Mar 19 at 17:38
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    Can you add the source where you found both meaning "to ask", please? – Shegit Brahm Mar 20 at 7:03

Eine Frage stellen is the same as fragen. You use the former when you want to stress the fact that you're asking or to avoid a sentence without object: Er stellte eine Frage. instead of Er fragte. (which likely prompts Was fragte er denn?).

Stellen by itself means to put.

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"Stellen" actually means "to put". You can combine it with "eine Frage".

  • "eine Frage stellen" = "to ask a question", or literally "to put a question"
  • "fragen" = "to ask"

Ich frage. - I ask. / I am asking. Ich stelle eine Frage. - I ask a question. / I am asking a question.

Ich frage meine Mutter. - I ask my mum. / I am asking my mum.
Ich stelle meiner Mutter eine Frage. - I ask my mum a question. / I am asking my mum a question.
(Side note: "eine Frage" is the accusative object, "meiner Mutter" is the dative object - the person who "receives" something, is always in the dative case.)

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    In return there's also "antworten" and "eine Antwort geben" which both mean to answer. – infinitezero Mar 20 at 1:05

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