2

What's the difference and/or which is better?

  1. pedir para eles pararem
  2. pedir para que eles parassem
  3. pedir que eles parassem
1

The main difference is tense (also aspect, mood) itself

In the first example, pararem in an inflected infinitive. The sentence means "ask them to stop".

In the two last sentences, parassem is a present subjunctive, meaning a condition. The difference between these two is how you use the verb pedir — the same way that in english you can "ask something" and "ask for something", you can do in portuguese, "pedir alguma coisa" and "pedir para *alguma coisa", you cam even "pedir por alguma coisa". It's just a matter of what compliment is the verb asking for.

1

There is essentially no difference in your examples, at least without any other context.

I can't think of any situation where pedir que can't be replaced with pedir para or the rarer pedir para que.

However, pedir para may not be interchangeable with pedir que.

Consider these two sentences:

(1) O João não fez o que pai lhe pediu para evitar o contágio.
(2) O João pediu para ir à rua.

In (1), para introduces the purpose/intention of the request, not the content of the request; para has here a strong lexical component. (incidentally, the sentence is also ambiguous, and para can also introduce the reason João didn't do what was asked of him)

In (2), we have a different predicate. Pedir para here means ask for, somewhat equivalent to:

(3) O João pediu que o deixassem ir à rua.

Another example, where it's a request not involving permission:

(4) Foi o próprio Presidente a pedir para reunir com todas as pessoas atingidas pela catástrofe.

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