Enquiry vs. Inquiry

Difference Between Enquiry and Inquiry

Though these terms are interchangeable, there are differences between the terms inquiry and enquiry. While the term inquiry means formal investigation, the term enquiry indicates that someone is asking a question. Also there is a difference between the origins of the prefixes of the words. The prefix ’en’ is French by nature and ‘in’ is Latin. Also the word inquiry is formal while enquiry is informal in nature.

Usually inquiry refers to ‘an investigation having a formal nature’ and enquiry indicates ’asking a question’. Enquiry is British English while inquiry is American English. Only in the case of the British English there is any sort of importance that is attached to the difference between the two words. However in case of Australian and American English, the word inquiry is being used widely.

The differences between ECB (Enquiry Based Education System) and ICB (Inquiry Based Education System) will make the differences more clear. In case of ECB the students are trained to be probing and inquiring. Their questions are based on their willingness to learn. However in case of ICB the focus is on the course structure and program. Here the questions are based on the issues that will help to do the assigned task, and the aim to gain pure knowledge is often overlooked.

You would enquire from your friends in case you need to order a good auto shipment agency. However if anyone has not made a payment to you, you would look to have an inquiry set up against him with the help of the proper system.

While inquiry is a sort of investigation, enquiry is more like a search for truth. Though there are so many differences between these words these terms are used in place of one another.

In case of everyday use these terms may be same and their use even while they are interchanged, can be understood easily,. In case of people who are aware of their English, the use is more appropriate. However in case of legal proceedings, the word enquiry is not used.


  1. While inquiry stands for an official examination, enquiry is merely asking questions.
  2. The ‘en’ is a French prefix and ‘in’ is a Latin prefix.
  3. Inquiry is an American English and enquiry is British English.
  4. Though they have a lot of difference between them these two terms are used in place of one another.


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