Difference Between Inquiry and Enquiry

Thousands of sentences are spoken by thousands of people day by day, and sometimes one is not sure about something that he is speaking. It happens due to confusion between certain words, use of verbs of other parts of speech. But misunderstanding words regarding their meaning and utilization is the most common mistake of all.  

 Inquiry and Enquiry are two of the words in the English language which not only seem identical but sound in an identical manner too. Most of the time, they get used incorrectly and differently from what they actually mean. They become really confusing unless one known how to distinguish them properly. To use them in their correct sense, it is important to know the difference that lies between them.  

Inquiry vs Enquiry 

The main difference between Inquiry and Enquiry is that the former comes in handy when certain formal and investigative questions are asked from someone. In contrast, the latter is used for questions that are asked casually and without any investigative intention. Another difference between them lies in them in terms of the places where their use is prevalent. The formal and informal touch in them creates a huge distinction. 

Inquiry vs Enquiry

The word ‘Inquiry’ originates from the conjuncture of two words, one of which happens to be a prefix. These two words are- In (prefix)+ Query. The prefix added here happens to be originated from the Latin language. The word itself demonstrates a situation where someone asks a formal question leading towards investigation or inspection in a serious manner.   

On the other side, Enquiry is a word that has a French language prefix in it. Its correct uses are made when a casual questioning or analysis is sought rather than a formal one. It refers to a scenario where informal questions are asked to gain knowledge about a particular thing. It can be anything from a normal daily question to a question asked to enhance knowledge. 

Comparison Table Between Inquiry and Enquiry 

Parameters of Comparison Inquiry  Enquiry  
Meaning  Inquiry is an English term that conveys the meaning- “A question asked to divulge into the formal investigation”.  Enquiry is an English term that conveys the meaning- “A question asked to casually with an intention to gather more information related to a specific subject matter.”  
Prefix  It carries the ‘In’ prefix, which seeks its origin from the Latin language. The prefix ‘En’, which is associated with this word, originates from the French language to form this word in its true sense. 
Correct Use  This word is used to convey formal inspection or examination in Britain. While in America, it conveys both the references of a formal investigation or casual questioning.  This word has grown obsolete in the United States, but it is used when someone refers to casual questions asked by one person to another person in England.  
Mostly Spoken America and Britain Britain  
Tone It conveys a formal tone It conveys an Informal tone. 
Dominance  This word holds a dominant position as it is recognized by the Oxford dictionary. This has a submissive position. 

What is Inquiry? 

If looked from the point of view of the exact meaning, the word Inquiry means to have a formal and authoritative investigation or inspection or examination, mostly done by an authority to dig up certain unknown facts. It is made up of the word Query added with a prefix of Latin language- In.  

But the utilization of this word is not limited to its meaning only. In Britain, people use this word as per its meaning, but in the United States, people use this word for every act of questioning, be it formal or informal. 

This makes this word a dominant word above other words because it is so widely accepted in the US. Not only this, but the Oxford Dictionary has also stated that they consider this word a universal word for all acts of questioning. 

Some of the examples are- 

  • The police inquired about his whereabouts. (British/American English) 
  • He inquired about my new bicycle. (American English)  

What is Enquiry? 

Enquiry, on the other hand, is a rather submissive and less utilized word referring to an act of inspection. It conveys an informal sense and demonstrates that the act of questioning was done with an intention to gain knowledge of something only and not for any formal investigation.  

It contains the French prefix ‘En’ with it. This word has grown obsolete in the United States, but in England, it is used when someone refers to casual questions asked by one person to another person. 

Some of the examples as to the use of this word are- 

  • He enquired about my result. 
  • My father enquired about my payroll. 
  • He did not enquire about my uncle today. 
  • They enquired about the tennis match that is going to take place the next month. 

Main Differences Between Inquiry and Enquiry 

  1. While the inquiry has the meaning “a formal inspection or examination mostly by an authority”, Enquiry conveys the meaning of casual questioning among people.  
  2. Inquiry is used to convey formal inspection or examination in Britain. While in America, it conveys both the references of a formal investigation or casual questioning. On the other hand, Enquiry is mostly used in Britain only. 
  3. Inquiry conveys a formal meaning and reference, while Enquiry demonstrates something informal or casual. 
  4. Inquiry holds a dominant position over Enquiry in terms of uses all around the world.  
  5. Inquiry carries the ‘In’ prefix which seeks its origin from the Latin language. While on the other side, Enquiry has the prefix ‘En’ associated with it from the French language.  


Similarly, like Inquiry and Enquiry, there are many more words in English with similar pronunciations and meanings, where one word happens to become more popular than the other among most people. Enquiry and inquiry, too, are two very confusing words where one has taken a dominant position masking the meanings of both words. 

However, the misuse of these two is very common, that most people tend to ignore it, but it is always best to brush up on one’s knowledge and use the words exactly where they belong. Therefore, it is crucial to have known where to use Inquiry and where to use Enquiry because these both are, although identical but convey two very different meanings and senses.


  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19338341.2014.945610
  2. https://ro.uow.edu.au/currentnarratives/vol1/iss2/10/
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