All Confused Enquire Here

You’ve probably seen these two words used in the same ways: inquire and enquire. So, is there a difference?

These are basically two spellings of the same word, which means to seek information about something or to conduct a formal investigation (usually when followed by “into”). The corresponding noun is enquiry or inquiry. Not surprisingly, enquire and enquiry are more common in British English, and inquire and inquiry are more common in US English. However, the Guardian (a British newspaper) tells writers to “use inquiry” and the Oxford English Dictionary seems to recognize inquire as the more dominant form. (My WordPress spell-checker keeps tagging enquire as an incorrect word, for example.)

I say not surprisingly because with many words there is a slight difference in preference depending on whether you are using UK or US style. I wonder how all those words got a little skewed, and I’m often amused (as I’m sure my UK counterparts are as well) when I hear on TV (or should I say “the tele”?) British speakers pronouncing words on the “wrong” syllable. For example, the word  controversy, which “across the pond” is pronounced con-TROV-ersy

So, you decide which word to use in the case of enquire and inquire. Just be consistent and go with the preferred word for the style of the country you are writing in (or for).

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