Inquire vs. Enquire: When to Use Enquire vs. Inquire with Useful Examples

Last Updated on December 18, 2023

Among the list of commonly confused words, there are some pairs of words that can be used interchangeably because they mean pretty much the same thing. This is the case with inquire vs. enquire: these words are very similar in both spelling and meaning. Even though there are some minor differences that you should pay attention to, in many cases, using one word or the other would not make any difference.

Inquire vs. Enquire: the Main Differences 

Inquire vs. Enquire Pin

Key Takeaways

In the English language, we often come across similar words that can cause confusion, notably “inquire” and “enquire.” Here’s what we need to remember:

  • Geographical Preference: “Inquire” is predominantly used in American English, whereas “enquire” is more commonly used in British English.
  • Formality Level: We use “inquire” in formal settings, such as in official investigations or formal requests for information. On the other hand, “enquire” suits general questions or informal requests for information.

Definition and Usage

In our exploration of “inquire” and “enquire,” we’ll clarify when to use each term correctly, ensuring our communication is precise and appropriate.

Meaning of Inquire

Inquire is commonly reserved for situations that require a formal request for information or are part of an official investigation. We use “inquire” when the context is particularly structured or legal in nature. For instance:

  • We inquire about the status of our application.
  • The detective inquires into the facts of the case.

Meaning of Enquire

Conversely, enquire is more appropriate for less formal or general questions. When we’re curious or need informal information, “enquire” is the verb we tend to choose. Examples include:

  • We enquire about a friend’s health.
  • One might enquire where to find the best coffee in town.

Usage Tips

  • If we’re writing for a primarily American audience or for formal documentation, it’s safer to stick with “inquire.”
  • In a casual conversation or correspondence in British English, “enquire” is more appropriate.
  • Despite these differences, both words are understood in either variant of English and sometimes used interchangeably, though less commonly in formal contexts.

We need to consider our readers and the context in which we’re communicating to choose the right word. By paying attention to these key points, we ensure clarity and propriety in our writing and speech.

Enquire vs. Inquire Related Confused Words

When we look at the words “enquire” and “inquire”, there are other terms that often come to mind with similar applications. Let’s dissect these terms to ensure our understanding is crystal clear.

Enquire vs. Ask

  • Enquire typically suggests a sense of querying that may not be formal. It’s like saying, We enquire about a friend’s well-being.
  • Ask, on the other hand, is our everyday term for requesting information, which covers a broad scope from casual to formal contexts. For instance, We ask someone for directions.

Inquire vs. Investigate

  • Inquire leans more towards a formal request for information or a structured search for answers. Think of it as us saying, We inquire about the cause of a technical issue at work.
  • Investigate denotes a more detailed or systematic process to uncover facts, often associated with research or law enforcement. For example, We investigate the scene of an incident to gather evidence.

Enquire vs. Inquire Examples

 “Enquire” Examples

  • I called the hotel to enquire about room availability for next weekend.
  • She stopped by the office to enquire about the status of her job application.
  • The guest at the information desk wanted to enquire about the museum’s opening hours.
  • Could you enquire with the neighbors if they need any assistance while they’re away?
  • He sent an email to enquire about the possibility of a refund for his ticket.

 “Inquire” Examples

  • The detective began to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the mysterious incident.
  • I am writing to inquire about subscribing to your magazine.
  • Students should feel free to inquire about any aspects of the course they find challenging.
  • The researcher is inquiring into the causes of the recent decline in bee populations.
  • After the presentation, there was an opportunity for attendees to inquire about the findings.

Interactive Excercise 

Multiple Choice

For each sentence, choose the correct word to complete the sentence.

  1. May I (A) enquire (B) inquire about the status of my application?
  2. The detective will (A) enquire (B) inquire further into the alibi of the suspect.
  3. Could you (A) enquire (B) inquire at the front desk for our room keys?
  4. I need to (A) enquire (B) inquire about the library’s opening hours.
  5. She will (A) enquire (B) inquire with the committee about the decision.
  6. I will (A) enquire (B) inquire whether the train is on time.
  7. Please (A) enquire (B) inquire within for more information about the job vacancy.
  8. The journalist wanted to (A) enquire (B) inquire about the mayor’s plans for the city.
  9. Can you (A) enquire (B) inquire about the possibility of a group discount?
  10. We should (A) enquire (B) inquire about the health and safety protocols before our visit.

Answers:

  1. B) inquire
  2. B) inquire
  3. A) enquire
  4. A) enquire
  5. A) enquire
  6. B) inquire
  7. A) enquire
  8. B) inquire
  9. A) enquire
  10. B) inquire

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between “inquire” and “enquire”?

  • Inquire typically refers to a more formal request for information or an official investigation.
  • Enquire is often used for less formal requests or questions about a subject.

Can “inquire” and “enquire” be used interchangeably?

  • In American English, “inquire” is predominantly used in all contexts.
  • In British English, both can be used, but it’s preferable to use “enquire” for casual questions and “inquire” for formal investigations.

Is there a difference in the usage of “inquiry” and “enquiry”?

  • “Inquiry” usually denotes a formal investigation.
  • “Enquiry” may represent a general question or the act of asking.

In which English dialects is “enquire” more commonly used?

  • British, Australian, and other Commonwealth English are more likely to maintain a distinction between “enquire” and “inquire.”
  • American English favors “inquire” for all uses.

How should I decide which word to use?

  • Consider the formality of the context: formal or official situations call for “inquire.”
  • Consider your audience: if it’s American, “inquire” is your best bet; for British or other dialects, use “enquire” for casual queries.

 

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