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Word comparisons

Note 114 – Do you use ‘enquire’ or ‘inquire’?

In British English, some people tend to make the distinction between enquire and inquire as follows:

  • The verb to enquire = to ask (the noun is enquiry)

  • The verb to inquire = to investigate (the noun is inquiry)


  • I would like to enquire about swimming lessons?

  • She was making an enquiry about swimming lessons.

  • They inquired about the incident.

  • I am making an inquiry about the incident.

In American English, the word inquiry is used for both asking and investigating, according to The Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Mander & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library)

According to the Daily Writing Tips site – – more modern dictionaries list inquire as the standard form, but do give a mention to the word enquire; the Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus lists enquire as a variant of inquire.

My thoughts: From my research today, I have found that enquire and inquire can be used interchangeably, which shocked me a bit as I have always made the distinction as in the definitions above. I’ll be looking out for how it is used in any text I read and may even start to use inquire. Whatever you decide, just try to be consistent.

That’s it for today. Don’t forget that you can subscribe to receive my daily blogs by email so that you don’t miss any. Just click ‘sign me up’ on the home page. Alternatively you can follow my blogs on Twitter @madeirasandra or my Tips and Luxuries Facebook page.

Until tomorrow…


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Twitter: @madeirasandra and @tipsandluxuries

Reference list:

The Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Mander & Stephen Curtis (Penguin Reference Library)

Daily Writing Tips website:

Collins English Dictionary & Thesaurus (UK)


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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