Getting It Right: Inquire vs. Enquire in Research Writing

by Arushi Gupta

Did you inquire about the lab results or did you enquire about the lab results? Does the spelling of inquire vs. enquire also confuse you in academic writing? If yes, in this blog, let’s explore the difference between inquire and enquire and understand when to use each word in writing.

Difference between inquire and enquire

The difference between inquire and enquire is primarily a matter of regional differences in spelling. In the United States, “inquire” is the more commonly used spelling, while in the United Kingdom and some other English-speaking countries, “enquire” is preferred.

There is no difference in the meaning of the two words, and their usage completely depends on the English writing style (British English or American English).

When to use inquire vs. enquire

Inquire and enquire are both verbs that mean to ask for information, investigate, or make an inquiry.

In American English, “inquire” is strongly preferred for all use cases. For instance when:

  • Asking for information: “I will have to inquire about the availability of lab equipment.”
  • Investigating a matter: “The research team will inquire into the potential causes of the anomaly.”
  • Making an official request: “The journal editor will inquire into the sources of plagiarism.”

In British English, the usage of enquire vs. inquire is segregated.

  • Use enquire when asking for information or taking in a casual manner: “She decided to enquire about the details of the experiment.” OR “I thought I would enquire about the possibility of collaborating with your team.”
  • Use inquire when talking of formal investigations. “The funding agency enquired about the status of the project.”

Inquire vs. enquire examples

To further illustrate the difference between inquire and enquire, let’s take a look at some examples:

  • “The researcher inquired about the participants’ details and demographics.” (American English)
  • “The criminal inquiry proceeded without the head of the department.” (American English)
  • “I will inquire with my colleagues on this before making a decision.” (American English)

  • “The criminal inquiry went on for 2 weeks before they identified the guilty party.”(British English)
  • “The research students enquired about the results of the experiment.” (British English)
  • “I will enquire with my colleagues before making a decision.” (British English)

In conclusion, while the difference between inquire and enquire is primarily a matter of regional differences in spelling, it’s important for you to be aware of these subtle nuances to make sure you are writing correctly in the chosen format.

If this article helped you, hold on, because we have more!

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