Grammar Inquiries or Enquiries: Which Spelling Is Correct? |
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Inquiries or Enquiries: Which Spelling Is Correct?

Inquiry and enquiry are closely related words—so close that some consider them to be the same and others don’t know what differences (if any) exist. This can make precision a challenge, but it’s one that we can master with a bit of mindfulness.

Let’s discuss proper use when we’re stuck at whether to make an inquiry or an enquiry.

Inquiry vs. Enquiry: The Basics

The simplest answer to the question of whether to use inquiry or enquiry is that both are alternate spellings of the word meaning “a request for information.”

Their use in the following sentences would be considered proper application and spelling:

The senator made an inquiry on behalf of her constituents.

I hope the nurse will respond to my enquiry soon.

As with many things, however, the simple answer doesn’t always tell the whole story. There are a couple more details to note.

Choosing Between Inquiry vs. Enquiry in Your Writing

The two versions of this word are close enough that others will not likely notice if you prefer one or another when speaking. However, in writing the difference will be more obvious.

The “i” spelling (inquiry) is strongly preferred in the United States. It’s so prevalent that some editors and teachers will consider the other version, enquire, to be a mistake or a typo (even though it technically isn’t). So if you want to be on the safe side, stick to inquire (verb) or inquiry (noun).

If you travel across the pond or work with someone in the U.K., you’ll notice an adjustment. Although both inquire and enquire are used overseas, they have developed slightly different meanings. Here is the distinction:

An inquiry is a formal request relating to a study or an investigation (e.g., law, science, government).

An enquiry, on the other hand, will more often apply to informal questions or requests, such as for a book at a library or directions at a gas (petrol) station.

In the U.S., we will inquire (or make an inquiry) for both formal and informal information gathering, making it simple to distinguish. The word enquiry will seldom if ever be used, but we can keep the difference between it and inquiry in mind whenever we visit the U.K. or other Commonwealth countries.

Keep Improving Your Grammar with Us

Now that you understand the difference between an inquiry and an enquiry, you have another specialized tool within your writer’s toolbox.

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