In this lesson we are going to go learn how to use the confusing question words: ‘question’, ‘inquiry’, ‘enquiry’ and ‘query’. These words have overlapping meanings, therefore they often confuse students.
These words are related to asking questions and it can often be confusing to know when it is appropiate to use each one.
Experts often disagree over the correct usage of these words, but we’re going to keep it simple. By following my straightforward guidelines, you will have the confidence to get these confusing words right every time.
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Confusing Question Word One: ‘Question’
Preposition Example: You ask a question about something. May I ask you a question about something? I have a question about biology.
Noun Example: I asked my teacher a question.
Verb Example: You question somebody to find out information. The police are questioning a suspect.
Confusing Question Word Two: ‘Inquiry’
Preposition Example: an inquiry into something. A legal or governmental investigation into something.
Noun Example: For serious things, there can be a governmental inquiry. For example, an inquiry into the Iraq War.
“Inquire” is not commonly used in British English.
Confusing Question Word Three: ‘Enquiry’
Preposition Example: an enquiry about something is a formal and polite way of asking a question.
Noun Example: There’s a student on the phone who has an enquiry about the course dates.
Verb Example: May I enquire if you’ve got any rooms at the moment?
Confusing Question Word Four: ‘Enquiries‘
This word is the plural of “enquiry”.
Noun Example: If you have any enquiries, send them to customer services.
Word 5 – Query
Preposition Example: I have a query about something.
‘Query’ is another word for question, but is used when expressing a doubt.
Noun Example: I have a query about the data on page six.
Extend Your Learning
◼️ Watch my lesson on When to Use the By (Prepositions)
◼️ Watch my lesson on Ways to Use the Word ‘so’
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