‘Enquiry' vs 'Inquiry': What's the Difference?

By Shanea Patterson, updated on January 11, 2023

Are you wondering whether to use ‘enquiry’ or ‘inquiry’ in your writing? And what is the difference? We’ll cover that in detail in this article, plus teach you how to use both words correctly in a sentence.

In short, ‘enquiry’ means to ask something in a general way and is typically the British English spelling of the word. ‘Inquire’ means to seek information in a formal way and is the American English spelling of the word.

‘Inquire’ vs. ‘Enquire’ – Difference and Examples

As you just learned, ‘inquire’ and ‘enquire’ might sound similar, but they mean different things. (And they’re not considered homophones because they don’t sound exactly alike, just similar.)

You learned that ‘inquire’ means to seek information in a formal way and that ‘enquire’ means to ask something in a general way.

‘Inquiry’ might be used for a formal investigation, whereas ‘enquiry’ might refer to asking your mother a question about an episode of a TV show you both watch.

In the UK, there’s more of a distinction between the words. ‘Inquiry’ is starting to be used in relation to formal inquests (or investigations), while ‘enquiry’ is being used to mean ‘the act of questioning.’

‘Inquiry’ vs. ‘Enquiry’ – The Correct Way to Use Each

The correct way to use ‘inquiry’ would be if you’re referring to a formal investigation or a formal request for answers within a company or organization. It’s also more commonly used in American English.

The correct way to use ‘enquiry’ would be if you’re simply referring to informally asking general questions or the process of questioning itself. It’s also mostly used in British English, as opposed to American English.

Definition and Meaning of ‘Enquiry’ and ‘Inquiry’

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘inquiry' is: “a request for information,” “a systematic investigation often of a matter of public interest,” and “examination into facts or principles: research.”

Synonyms of the word include:

  • Delving
  • Examination
  • Inquisition
  • Probe
  • Study
  • Disquisition
  • Exploration
  • Investigation
  • Probing
  • Examen
  • Inquest
  • Probation
  • Research

The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘enquiry’ is: “chiefly British spellings of inquire, inquirer, inquiry.”

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce ‘Enquiry’ and ‘Inquiry’ 

Wondering how to pronounce these words? Let’s take a quick look at our short guide.

  • To pronounce ‘enquiry,’ here’s the phonetic spelling: IN-KWY-REE.
  • To pronounce ‘inquiry,’ here’s the phonetic spelling: EN-KWY-REE.

How to Use ‘Inquiry’ in a Sentence 

Now that we know what the words mean and how to pronounce them let’s take a look at how to use them in a sentence.

  • Everyone has an inquiry all of a sudden. I’m swamped with paperwork.
  • I received an inquiry about my writing services last night. The client wants blog posts.
  • There’d be an inquiry into Mr. Thomas’ death since he was found with bruises.
  • Peterson refused to answer inquiries from the media about his bankrupt company.

How to Use ‘Enquiry’ in a Sentence

Now let’s look at how to use ‘enquiry’ in a sentence.

  • My mom and her constant enquiries about my life are so annoying.
  • I have an enquiry for you. What happened to the car?
  • My mom is constantly texting me an enquiry about our favorite show, Grey’s Anatomy.
  • You always have an enquiry – or a few. Why do you ask so many questions?

Final Advice on ‘Enquiry’ and ‘Inquiry’

To recap, we’ve learned that ‘enquiry’ and ‘inquiry’ have slightly different meanings and usages. ‘Enquiry’ is most commonly seen in British English, whereas ‘inquiry’ is more often used in American English.

If you ever get stuck, you can always come back for a quick reminder.

We’ve got a ton of content on other confusing words and phrases you might come across as you’re learning the language.

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Written By:
Shanea Patterson
Shanea Patterson is a writer based in New York and loves writing for brands big and small. She has a master's degree in professional writing from New York University and a bachelor's degree in English from Mercy College.

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