Posted by: Jack Henry | June 3, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Enquiring Minds Want to Know

Dear Editrix:

We remember the "Enquiring minds want to know" advertising slogan used in the ’80s by the National Enquirer. What I want to inquire of your mind is what is the difference between “enquire” and “inquire?”

I don’t want to spend money on a supermarket tabloid to find out.

Dear Enquirer,

My first thought on this was that it must be a British English vs. American English thing—I figured they both meant “to ask.” But then I realized, the National Enquirer was published here in the U.S., so I had to do a little more research. The short and simple answer from the Grammarly blog is the following:

· Traditionally, enquire simply meant “ask,” while inquire was used for formal investigations.

· In the UK, the two words are used interchangeably, although inquire is still the more commonly used word for formal or official investigations.

· In the United States, inquire is the strongly preferred spelling in all uses.

I read several other articles and they had similar information. In the U.S., we don’t usually enquire, we simply ask. And even if we were to inquire, we’d do it with an “i”. [Side note: I looked up both spellings in Merriam-Webster and when I entered
enquire, it took me to the definition for inquire and said,
“less commonly enquiry.”]

Keep the inquiries coming!

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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