This is part of the dif­fer­ence between series.

Recent­ly, some­one asked me to explain dif­fer­ence between the words enquire and inquire. Here’s the dif­fer­ence between the two.


Enquire tra­di­tion­al­ly refers to the gen­er­al sense of ask­ing for some­thing.

  • I’m enquir­ing about the job you post­ed in the paper.
  • Have you enquired about your father’s test results?


Inquire, on the oth­er hand, tra­di­tion­al­ly refers to a for­mal inves­ti­ga­tion.

  • The police chief launched an inquiry into the death of four of her offi­cers.
  • Ms. Pres­i­dent, have you start­ed the inquiry you promised dur­ing your cam­paign?

Now, all that being said, Eng­lish is a liv­ing, flu­id lan­guage, and the mean­ing of words some­times changes over time. This is one of those times. The tra­di­tion­al dif­fer­ence between enquiry and inquiry is slow­ly erod­ing, and func­tion­al­ly, these two words mean the same thing. Very few peo­ple — except the most pedan­tic and the diehard pre­scrip­tivists — would dif­fer­en­ti­ate between the two words.

There is one slight dif­fer­ence: British speak­ers tend to favour enquire, and Amer­i­cans tend to favour inquire.

Which words do you con­fuse? Let me know in the com­ments below.

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About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

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