"Ask" was released as a single on 20 October 1986 through Rough Trade Records. Credited to singer Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, "Ask" is an upbeat, positive pop song built around major chords.
Its lyrics discuss shyness and encourage the listeners to overcome their inhibitions. Its multiple guitar parts and complex production led to disagreements regarding its final mix. In addition, Craig Gannon, who at the time was the rhythm guitarist for the group, has claimed he wrote – and was denied credit for – the song's chord structure.
"Ask" continued the Smiths' top 20 streak in their native country, peaking at number 14 on the UK Singles Chart. In addition, it reached number nine on the Irish Singles Chart. Filmmaker Derek Jarman directed the song's music video. As with most of the Smiths' singles, it was not included on an original album. It can be found on the compilations The World Won't Listen and Louder Than Bombs (both 1987) as well as the live album Rank (1988).