Enquiry vs. Inquiry: Enhancing Your Vocabulary Knowledge

Understanding the distinction between “enquiry” and “inquiry” is crucial for anyone who wishes to communicate effectively, particularly in contexts that demand a high degree of precision. Although these words are often used interchangeably, they do carry different connotations which may affect the clarity of your communication.

The Main Difference Between Enquiry and Inquiry

Enquiry vs. Inquiry: Unraveling the Linguistic Distinction

Enquiry vs. Inquiry: Key Takeaways

  • Enquiry” is primarily used in British English and is associated with formal requests for information or investigations.
  • Inquiry” is more commonly used in American English but is also accepted in British English, and it is used to denote the act of seeking information or investigating a matter, both formally and informally.
  • The choice may depend on regional language preferences and the formality of the context, but they both convey the same fundamental meaning of seeking information or investigating a subject.

Enquiry vs. Inquiry: The Definition

What Does Enquiry Mean?

Enquiry” refers to the act of seeking information, investigating a subject, or making a formal request for information. In British English, “enquiry” is commonly used to denote a formal investigation, a request for specific details, or a search for information. It is often associated with official or formal inquiries made by government agencies, organizations, or individuals.

The term “enquiry” is used to express the process of gathering information or conducting an investigation into a particular matter, and it is commonly employed in both professional and everyday contexts to indicate the act of seeking specific details or clarification on a particular topic or issue.


  • You made an enquiry about the library’s opening hours.

What Does Inquiry Mean?

Inquiry involves the systematic process of seeking information, knowledge, or understanding about a specific topic or issue. It encompasses questioning, research, and investigation to gather relevant facts and insights, and it plays a crucial role in fostering learning, problem-solving, and decision-making across diverse fields and disciplines.

Inquiry is commonly used in both American and British English for official or detailed examinations.


  • The municipal council held a public inquiry into the new urban development plan.

Enquiry vs. Inquiry: Examples

Example Sentences Using Enquiry

  • You might send an email to a company with an enquiry about the availability of a product.
  • After a lecture, you could approach the speaker with an enquiry regarding the topics discussed.
  • Please submit your enquiry through the contact form on our website.
  • The customer made an enquiry about the availability of the product.
  • The committee launched an enquiry into the financial irregularities.
  • We received an enquiry from a potential investor regarding our business expansion plans.

Example Sentences Using Inquiry

  • A government commission may launch an inquiry into the practices of a financial institution.
  • Scientists might conduct an inquiry into the causes of a certain environmental phenomenon.
  • She conducted an extensive inquiry into the origins of the ancient artifact.
  • The board initiated an inquiry to investigate the allegations of misconduct.
  • The professor encouraged students to pursue independent inquiry into the scientific principles discussed in class.
  • The government announced a formal inquiry into the causes of the recent environmental disaster.

Related Confused Words

Enquiry vs Investigation

An enquiry typically refers to a general request for information or an informal exploration of a topic. It is commonly associated with seeking clarification or understanding, and may involve asking questions or conducting research to gather basic information.

An investigation is a more formal and systematic process aimed at uncovering specific details or solving a problem. It often involves a thorough examination of evidence, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing data to reach a conclusion. Investigations are commonly associated with legal, criminal, or official inquiries that require a structured and in-depth approach to uncovering the truth.

While both enquiry and investigation involve seeking information, an enquiry is more general and informal, while an investigation is a formal and systematic process aimed at uncovering specific details or solving a problem.

Inquiry vs. Research

An inquiry typically refers to a general exploration or investigation into a specific topic or question. It often involves asking questions, gathering basic information, and seeking clarification.

Research is a systematic and methodical investigation aimed at generating new knowledge, validating existing theories, or solving specific problems. It involves a structured approach, including formulating hypotheses, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions based on evidence.

In summary, while both inquiry and research involve seeking information and understanding, inquiry is a general exploration or investigation, whereas research is a more structured and systematic process aimed at generating new knowledge or validating existing theories.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should ‘inquire’ be used instead of ‘enquire’?

Use ‘inquire’ when referring to a formal investigation or when seeking official information, such as a legal inquiry.

How is ‘inquiry’ commonly used in American English?

In American English, ‘inquiry’ is the standard form for both formal and informal questioning, often encompassing the uses of both ‘enquiry’ and ‘inquire.’

Can you provide examples of how to use ‘enquire’ in a sentence?

Certainly, you might say “I will enquire about the library’s closing hours” or “She enquired about the menu options for the event.”

What is the proper way to pluralize ‘enquiry’?

To pluralize ‘enquiry,’ simply add an “ies” to the end to make ‘enquiries.’

What synonyms can be used for ‘enquire’ in formal writing?

In formal writing, synonyms such as ‘ask,’ ‘question,’ or ‘probe’ can often substitute for ‘enquire.’