Enquire vs Inquire

Do I use enquire or inquire? Like many things, the short answer is…it depends.

Both words are used to refer to a query or question. They are relatively interchangeable, but this can depend on where you live. In theory, you should not be vilified for using either word.

In Australia:

  • Enquire is usually used to mean a general question.

Example: She enquired about my plans for the rest of the evening. I enquired why she wanted to know.

  • Inquire is more often used to mean a formal or official investigation.

Example: The government set up an inquiry into superannuation practices.

In the UK, the two words are interchangeable but inquire is used more often when referring to an official investigation.

In the USA, inquire is the preferred spelling in all cases.