Difference Between Inquiry and Query

The English language is a fairly new language when compared to others like Latin, Spanish, or even Sanskrit. The words are more often than not derivatives and amalgamations of other similar-sounding words in other primitive languages.


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Thus the English language can sometimes be very difficult to tackle, the slim difference between words like “affect and effect”, “further and farther”, “its and it’s” are all examples of the same. Sometimes even the most grammatically correct individuals end up mixing these seemingly harmless words.

Another such pair of such words are “Inquiry and Query”. 

Inquiry vs Query

The difference between inquiry and query simply put is that query is the act of asking a question, it is often a step involved in the process of inquiry, which is done to seek knowledge or information. Thus to sum up inquiry is the sum of knowledge via which questions are answered, knowledge is acquired and doubts are resolved. And the query is a part of the process and it is the act of asking a question.

Inquiry vs Query

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonInquiryQuery
DefinitionAn inquiry is an act of seeking information that leads to the resolution of doubts.It is the act of asking questions.
UsageIt is mostly used as a noun when seeking information.It can be used as a verb especially when asking a question, and as a noun when passed to a database.
ExampleThe board members have ordered an inquiry into the alleged misconduct of the other of the facultyThe professor clarified the student’s query about physics by giving a real-life example.
OriginDerived from the Anglo-French word “enqueren”.Derived from the Latin word “quaere”, which means to ask or seek.
SpellingThe North American spelling is inquiry while the British spelling is enquiry. There is only spelling which is “query”.

What is Inquiry?

The basic definition of Inquiry is the process of seeking information by asking questions or interrogation in a more professional setting, in order to resolve doubts and get answers. It is generally used as a noun and is derived from the Anglo-French word “enquere”.

There was an Inquiry-based learning model developed in the 1960s and it was based on the idea that individuals can navigate through a situation, face and solve problems and learn from their experiences. 

With this study instructors and teachers encouraged the students to follow 5 simple steps which are to ask questions, probe into various situations, conduct analysis, provide a description, communicate findings and finally to actually absorb and process the information gathered.

This process is based around the learners or the pupil instead of the materials used which are auxiliary here.

Thus this method is more about information processing and understanding instead of just gathering or memorizing it.

The four most common forms of inquiries are, the first being confirmation inquiry wherein the pupil is encouraged to confirm an already known phenomenon by asking questions and making an inquiry.

This helps them reinforce established ideas and get better at investigation. The second type being structured inquiry, this method is based on getting an explanation of the answer the learner may already know, here they are already guided about the kinds of questions to ask and how to navigate through the situation.

The third being a Guided inquiry where they are only given a question and they themselves have to design the method to get the answer. Finally is the open inquiry where the learner asks questions on their own. 

All these methods are used in a police investigation as well and are mandatorily taught to detectives. There is also different spelling for the same word in different parts of the world like inquiry, enquiry, and even enquire. 

inquiry 3

What is Query?

A query is a simple process of asking questions and is often a part of the whole “inquiry” process, and it can be used both as a verb and noun instead of just a noun as in the case of an inquiry. It is derived from the Latin word “quaere” which means to ask.

Thus this word too is used to seek and understand information.

There are generally three types of queries are Navigational search queries, Informational search queries, Transactional search queries especially in the internet lingo. The first one is a search for a certain specific webpage or website.

The second one is to gather information or knowledge from various sources and multiple webpages or websites. Finally, the third type is to complete a transaction suppose while purchasing an item one may ask questions about the product.

There is also a computer language called query but that is a different topic. The different examples of the query are, when in noun form it can be used in a sentence like “ I have a query about my treatment” and as a verb in a sentence like “ The young boy quired about the new book to the librarian”. 


Main Difference Between Inquiry and Query

  1. An inquiry is a process of seeking information on any topic in order to resolve doubts, answer questions, and so on. A Query is just the process of asking questions and it is often a part of the inquiry.
  2. Inquiry can only be used as a noun while query can be used both as a verb and a noun.
  3. The Origin of “inquiry” is anglo-french from the word “enqueren” while “query” is Latin in origin from the word “quaere”.
  4. The North American and British spelling is different for inquiry or enquiry respectively, while “query” only has one spelling.
  5. Example: Upon further inquiry, the man confessed to stealing.

Example: The teacher asked the students to ask their queries without any hesitation. 

Difference Between Inquiry and Query


  1. https://journals.lww.com/jaanp/Fulltext/2019/03000/Reemphasizing_the_value_of_query_letters_in_the.1.aspx
  2. https://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007/s11251-011-9203-4.pdf
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