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Enquiry vs. Inquiry: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 12, 2023
"Enquiry" often implies asking a question, while "inquiry" suggests a formal investigation. Both can be used interchangeably in some cases, but may have specific conventional uses depending on the region.

Key Differences

"Enquiry" and "inquiry" are often used interchangeably, but they sometimes carry different connotations. An enquiry is generally a request for information or a question. For example, one might make an enquiry at a store about the price of an item. Conversely, "inquiry" is often used in a more formal or official context.
In some regions or dialects of English, "enquiry" and "inquiry" might be used interchangeably without distinction. However, certain formal and legal contexts may prefer the term "inquiry" due to its established use in such situations, reflecting a deeper, formal investigation.
"Enquiry" usually is more casual and pertains to questions or information-seeking. If you are simply asking for information or clarification about a topic, you might send an email of enquiry. On the other hand, an "inquiry" often implies a systematic or judicial investigation.
When looking at the usage in British English, "enquiry" might be the preferred term for general questions or seeking information. "Inquiry" in contrast might be reserved for formal investigations, such as those performed by government bodies or official entities.
"Enquiry" can be seen as the more general term, suitable for various contexts where information is sought. Whereas "inquiry" might often be seen in official reports, legal documents, and formal investigations that are conducted systematically and thoroughly.

Comparison Chart




Informal questions
Official investigations

Typical Use

Everyday conversation
Legal or systematic research

Associated Acts



Casual or non-specific
Systematic or judicial process

Enquiry and Inquiry Definitions


An act of asking for information.
Her enquiry about the train schedule was met with a quick response.


A formal investigation.
The government launched an inquiry into the financial irregularities.


An investigation or examination of something.
The committee launched an enquiry into the alleged misconduct.


Seeking truth, information, or knowledge.
His scientific inquiry led to a groundbreaking discovery.


A request for information.
I sent an enquiry to the university about their admission process.


An official process to discover the facts about something.
The inquiry into the accident revealed several safety violations.


The process of asking about something to get information.
My enquiry at the helpdesk resolved my issue with the product.


A formal process of questioning to gather information.
The judge led the inquiry with a series of pointed questions.


Seeking information through questioning.
The journalist's enquiry was focused on the mayor’s new policy.


A formal review or investigation into an event or situation.
The public demanded an inquiry into the mishandling of funds.


Variant of inquiry.


The act of inquiring
Engaged in scientific inquiry.


A question.


A question; a query
There were many inquiries about the new tax rates.


Is "enquiry" more common in certain regions?

Yes, "enquiry" is often more commonly used in British English.

Is "inquiry" preferred in official contexts?

Typically, "inquiry" is used in the context of formal or official investigations.

How is "inquiry" used in academic contexts?

"Inquiry" in academia often refers to detailed research or investigation into a subject.

What’s a synonym for "enquiry"?

A synonym might be "question" or "query."

How to use "inquiry" in a sentence?

"The senator faced an inquiry into her financial dealings."

Is "enquiry" informal?

Generally, yes, but it can depend on regional and contextual usage.

How is an inquiry different?

An inquiry typically refers to a formal investigation or examination.

What is a synonym for "inquiry"?

"Investigation" or "examination" could serve as synonyms.

Is “enquiry” used in legal language?

It might be, but “inquiry” is more standard in legal and official contexts.

How to use "enquiry" in a sentence?

"I will make an enquiry about the train times."

Can they be used interchangeably?

Yes, in casual usage they can be, but distinctions can apply in formal contexts.

Can an enquiry be formal?

While it's often informal, "enquiry" can be used in formal contexts, depending on regional usage.

What is an enquiry?

An enquiry refers to a question or a request for information.

Can "enquiry" refer to an investigation?

Yes, but "inquiry" is more commonly used in that context.

Which is correct: "make an inquiry" or "make a enquiry"?

"Make an inquiry" is correct due to the vowel sound at the start of "inquiry."

Can “inquiry” denote curiosity?

Yes, it can be used to describe a quest for knowledge or information.

Are there strict rules for using "enquiry" and "inquiry"?

There are general guidelines, but usage can depend on the region and specific dialects of English.

Is “inquiry” used in everyday language?

It can be, but “enquiry” might be more common for casual questions.

Can "enquiry" refer to an official process?

While possible, "inquiry" is more typically used in this way.

Can "inquiry" simply mean asking a question?

Yes, but it often connotes a deeper or more formal questioning.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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