Inquire and enquire

By Mary Morel

Reader’s question: What’s the difference between inquire and enquire and inquiry and enquiry?

Answer: Enquire/enquiry and inquire/inquiry, can be used interchangeably.

Pam Peters, in The Cambridge Guide to English Usage, says:

‘Given no consistent ways of differentiating the two spellings, and the fact that differentiation is unnecessary, it makes sense to consolidate the use of one or the other. Inquire and inquiry recommend themselves as the spellings made first among equals by the Oxford Dictionary, and the fact that they are strongly preferred in North America.’

Although I can see the logic in just using inquire, I use enquire to ask, and inquiry for an official investigation.

I think this is quite a common distinction in Australian and British English. Read more.

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