Inquire vs. Enquire

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Inquire and enquire are two different spellings of the same word that means to seek information about something or make a formal investigation about something. While you can either use enquire or inquire and not make a mistake, these two words have been used in a somewhat different manner, especially in the United Kingdom. 

Generally, the word enquire means asking for information from someone while inquire is used for formal or official investigations. In the United Kingdom, inquire and enquire are used interchangeably. However, the word inquire is commonly used for official or formal investigations. On the contrary, in the United States, inquire is the preferred spelling in all uses. 

Let’s get to know more about these two spellings in detail.

When to Use Inquire

The word inquire as a verb is generally used in an official or non-official situation where it implies asking for some information from someone. For example, we went to the station to inquire about a train.

However, in British English, the word inquire is used for formal queries and investigations only. For example, we requested police to inquire into the matter of murder. 

Nowadays, British people also use the word inquire in the way Americans do, which means the spelling inquire can be used for both for conducting investigation and asking for information.

Examples of “Inquire” in Sentences

  • Before planning for the tour, let’s inquire about hotel reservations.
  • I inquired about this book in almost all nearby bookstores.
  • May I inquire why she wants to speak to him?
  • She said she will inquire into the matter.

Examples of “Inquire” in sentences for official investigation 

  • A commission of inquiry reported in favour of public management.
  • During the pandemic, health workers visited each home to inquire about the virus.
  • The police are inquiring into her connections with the gangsters.
  • The interview inquired about social concerns and physical symptoms.
  • To measure social capital, we will need to add more questions to the section that inquires about human nature in interpersonal relations.
  • The officer will inquire about immigration status.

When to Use Enquire

As mentioned above, the word enquiry is mainly used in British English, which means “to ask” or “to investigate” something.

While the word inquire is used in the same spirit as enquire in British English, it does not do the exact opposite – enquire is seldom used for a formal and official investigation.

  • We came here to enquire about our way.
  • Be sure to enquire about return on investment before making an investment.
  • Enquire about discount tickets in advance.
  • Do enquire about the weight of the opal store before buying it.
  • Enquire for the price of one week course.
  • I want to enquire for exact detail.

Conclusion

Historically, the difference between the verbs inquire and enquire is that the word inquiry is reserved for formal investigations, while enquire is used to ask something in general.

Nowadays, enquire is commonly used in British English while inquire in American English.


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