It’s time for “Confusing Words of the Week” where I take a set of two or three words that get confused and give you definitions and try to give you a memory trick to help you remember when to use which word. If you have words that confuse you, use the Ask PTB tab on the website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they may appear here soon!
A friend asked about some confusion over two words. Here they are as this week’s words:
- inquire – ask for information from someone; investigate; look into.
- enquire – ask for information from someone; investigate; look into.
Yes, they are the same. Traditionally, “enquire” meant to ask, while “inquire” was used for more formal investigation. In the UK, either word is appropriate, but “inquire” is most common. Here in the US, “inquire” is the preferred word.
So you would be correct to use “inquire” in the US when you are asking for information or investigating something, although “enquire” is not incorrect. And the same would be true in the UK.