Inquire vs. Enquire

Inquire vs. Enquire: It’s not as Complicated as You Think

I bet that if you are a user of English (as first or second language), you must be aware of these words.

Some people say ‘enquiry’ and ‘enquire’, while others would say ‘inquiry’ and ‘inquire’.

So, what is the difference between both and whether both of these terms are the same or the difference is in term of the usage.

This is exactly what we are going to discover in this blogpost.

Just a heads up! Grammar checker by Grammarlookup can also help you with this.

  1. Meaning of both: Inquire and Enquire

These words inquire and enquire as well as their forms: inquiry and enquiry mean almost the same.

Inquire means to look into, investigate a matter or ask for the information about a particular issue.

Enquire means 100% same. It means to get information, ask for information or investigate a matter,

However:

This sameness leads us to a confusion.

If both of the words mean the same, then why have two of them? We know very well that in English the synonyms do not mean the same as the original word.

With a little bit difference between the actual word and the synonym, there is some similarity, but you cannot call them the same.

Let us find out why enquire and inquire are the same.

  1. Difference between Enquire and Inquire

As it has been explained, the difference between both is not in terms of meaning, but in terms of usage.

While enquire and inquire mean the same, and the meaning of the corresponding nouns: inquiry and enquiry is also the same, there is some difference in how people use them.

Normally, enquire or enquiry is used for general investigation of fact e.g. enquiring about the time of a movie and ticket price etc.

However:

Inquire or inquiry is used for formal investigation of an act, fact or crime etc. So you always inquire from a criminal.

It is never enquire!

So, as a rule of thumb, you enquire when you want to ask something common or get information, but when you investigate someone it is called inquiry.

  1. American and British English

The difference between inquire and enquire is not only in terms of the nature of investigation, but also in terms of usage.

For example:

In Britain enquire and enquiry are more commonly used, although the use of inquire also exists.

In USA, they use inquire and inquiry.

One of the many reasons of this is because in US English there is an out of proportion focus on simplifying the pronunciations.

So:

Instead of writing colour they write it color because it can make the same noise without expense of a ‘u’.

As you can see, Americans are not extravagant.

Since the etymology suggests that both words come from same French word enquerre which are acquired from Latin language, the basic meaning is a matter of special attention.

Enquerre means ‘to seek’. And as you can see that seeking or searching for something can be used for both cases: asking or investigating – both of the words are basically interchangeable.

  1. Examples of Use of Enquire and Inquire

Here are some examples of how these words can be used.

  • Police is still inquiring the employees to establish an opinion about the person who was involved in the last month’s theft.
  • The departmental inquiry will be held before pressing charges against the ex-Director.
  • At the end of every year, Librarian strictly inquires the members if they issued some books from the library and never returned them.

This is how inquire should be used. And here is how you can use the word enquire or enquiry.

  • Hi, I wanted to enquire about the next train to Barcelona! I want to buy tickets for two.
  • I’ll go and enquire about Sarah’s health; she’s been hospitalized for a week.
  • In response to your enquiry about the availability of John’s new book, all I can say is that you’ll probably have to wait for another two months.

So:

Next time if someone asks you about the difference between both words, from etymology to difference in usage as well as use in Britain as well as North America, you’ll be able to tell everything.

Remember, both of these words are interchangeable, but it shows a better sense of understanding if you use them as per the case e.g. information or investigation.

Have fun enquiring your friends about how to use enquire!

 

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