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Inquiry vs. Enquiry

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  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Inquiry vs. Enquiry

Words spelled similarly are quite common in the English vocabulary. But those that are different only through their first letter are less frequent and even more confusing. They almost sound the same, their spellings are almost identical, yet "inquiry" and "enquiry" differ through their first letters.

So what does "inquiry" mean and what does the form starting with "e" stand for? In what contexts are they used and how do you know how to choose one of them and not to make confusions? Grammar.com will answer all these questions for you!

Inquiry vs. Enquiry

Long story short, the first letter is only different according to the region where you are spelling these words. More accurately, "inquiry" is the US version and "enquiry" is the form more frequently used in the UK.

Apart from these regional differences, which are common between American and British English, there is nothing else that can influence your choice for one or the other. Both "inquiry" and "enquiry" are English nouns, used with the same meanings, in the same contexts. They can be replaced one with the other because they are both accepted and considered correct. Let's take a closer to look to the messages you can transmit using "inquiry" and "enquiry".

When do we use "inquiry"?

As already mentioned above, "inquiry" is an usual noun, mostly used in American English. Regarding its meaning, "inquiry" refers either to a formal question or to a formal process of asking questions, with the purpose of getting more details. At the same time, it can refer to an official process that allows the discovery of new information about an unfavorable past event.

Example 1: We get a daily inquiry regarding the way we manage our crisis. - referring to a daily set of formal questions asked to find out more information.

Example 2: The police prepared a great inquiry for the past events. - a process of asking questions to get more details about a certain event.

Example 3: All witnesses have participated to an official inquiry regarding the car crash. - an official process that allows the discovery of details regarding a bad event.

When do we use "enquiry"?

"Enquiry" stands for all the meanings of "inquiry" and can be used in any of the contexts presented already. The only difference between these two is that "enquiry" is preferred in British English. To see the contexts in which you can use this noun, simply replace "inquiry" with "enquiry" in the examples above.

Conclusion

"Inquiry" and "enquiry" are both correct spellings of the same noun, referring to the same thing. All you have to remember is that they are spelled differently according to the English vocabulary you are using: "inquiry" is preferred in US English, whereas "enquiry" is the British version.

Inquiry vs. Enquiry

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