Is It Correct “To Inquire About Something”? (Grammar Explained)

Marcus Froland

Let’s talk about the English language. It’s full of twists and turns, isn’t it? Sometimes, even the most confident speakers stumble over grammatical rules that seem to shift like sand beneath their feet. Today, we’re focusing on a phrase that often causes eyebrows to rise in confusion: “to inquire about something.” You’ve probably seen or heard it countless times. But when it comes time to use it yourself, you might pause and think: Is this actually correct?

Grammar is not just about following rules; it’s also about understanding why those rules exist in the first place. And sometimes, to really get a grip on these guidelines, we need to break them down into simpler parts. That brings us right back to our topic at hand. By now, your curiosity must be piqued.

Yes, it is correct to say “to inquire about something.” This phrase means you are asking for information or looking into a matter more deeply. In English, “inquire” is often used in formal situations, like in business or academia. However, it’s also perfectly fine for everyday conversations. Remember, “inquire” can be replaced with “ask” if you’re looking for a simpler word. But if you want to sound more formal or polished, sticking with “to inquire about something” is your best bet.

Understanding the Grammar of “Inquire”

The verb inquire is an essential part of the English language as it is used to seek information or ask questions. However, it doesn’t fit neatly into the category of transitive or intransitive verbs, making its proper usage a bit more complex. In this section, we will dive into the grammar of inquire, focusing on inquiring sentence structure and verb inquire usage, to help you master this subtle yet vital verb.

As mentioned earlier, the verb “inquire” cannot take a direct noun object by itself. Instead, it requires either a prepositional phrase or a nominal phrase to complete its meaning. Here are a few examples:

She inquired about his work experience.

He inquired whether she had seen the movie.

They inquired how to get to the train station.

Using a direct noun object with the verb “inquire” will result in an incorrect sentence structure:


She inquired his work experience.


She inquired about his work experience.

To better understand the proper usage of “inquire,” let’s examine the following table:

Verb Direct Object/Noun Phrase Prepositional Phrase/Nominal Phrase
Inquire (Not Acceptable) about the problem, what she thought
Ask the question, her opinion about the problem, for help

In comparison with “ask,” which accepts both direct objects/noun phrases and prepositional phrases/nominal phrases, “inquire” can only take prepositional phrases/nominal phrases. Keeping this distinction in mind will help you use “inquire” correctly in your sentences.

In summary, when using the verb inquire in your sentences, remember that it requires a prepositional or nominal phrase to complete its meaning. Avoid using a direct noun object and pay attention to the sentence structure to ensure that your inquiry is both clear and grammatically correct.

The Subtleties of Using “To Inquire About Something”

While “to inquire about something” is a grammatically correct phrase, it can lead to ambiguity and confusion if not used effectively. In this section, we will discuss the importance of specificity in inquiry communication, the problems caused by vague inquiries, and how to frame your questions more accurately using contextual inquiry usage.

When to Use the Phrase Effectively

To use the phrase “to inquire about something” effectively, it’s crucial to replace the general term “something” with the specific subject matter of your inquiry. This approach helps eliminate any ambiguity and makes your communication more direct and productive. When you inquire in sentences with a clear context, the recipient can understand and accurately respond to your query.

The Ambiguity of “Something” in Inquiries

Including “something” in “to inquire about something” can be problematic because it’s unclear what the exact subject of the inquiry is. For clearer and more efficient communication, it is vital to specify what you are inquiring about. Clarifying the subject of your inquiry allows the other party to comprehend your question and provide the information you need.

Practical Examples of Inquiry in Context

Example 1: “I would like to inquire about something.”

Corrected: “I would like to inquire about your graphic design services.”

Example 2: “Can you please inquire about the meeting details?”

Corrected: “Can you please inquire about the time and location of the meeting?”

Example 3: “She wanted to inquire about the vacation package.”

Corrected: “She wanted to inquire about the itinerary and pricing of the vacation package.”

As demonstrated in these examples, providing specific information about the inquiry subject can significantly improve communication and ensure that appropriate, accurate responses are given.

  1. Specify the subject of the inquiry: Instead of using generic terms like “something,” provide clear, precise details about the topic you are inquiring about to prevent confusion.
  2. Use contextual inquiry usage: Frame your questions within the context of the situation, focusing on the relevant information you need.
  3. Be concise: Keep your inquiries succinct and to the point, making it easier for the recipient to understand and provide accurate information.

By implementing these strategies, you can ensure that your inquiries are effective and garner the informative responses you need.

Inquire vs Ask: Distinguishing the Verbs

Both “inquire” and “ask” share the common aspect of seeking information. However, there are crucial differences between these two verbs that determine their appropriate usage in various contexts. Understanding these distinctions can help improve your communication skills by selecting the right verb for a particular situation.

Let’s begin with the key differences between “inquire” and “ask” :

  1. Inquire specifically pertains to soliciting knowledge or information, whereas ask can involve requesting physical objects or services.
  2. When using “inquire,” it must be followed by a preposition like “about,” unlike “ask,” which can take a direct object.

Consider the following examples to see how the verbs “inquire” and “ask” function differently:

Paul inquired about the examine_get_lowest_surfacedragnde.k name=”x” photoresistor.byname

This sentence implies that Paul seeks information regarding the examine_get_lowest_surfacedragnde.k name=”x.”

Paul asked for the examine_get_lowest_surfacedragnde.k name=”x.”

Here, Paul is requesting the actual examine_get_lowest_surfacedragnde.k name=”x” instead of merely seeking information.

Consider another example:

Susan inquired about the services offered by Tesla.

This sentence indicates that Susan seeks information on Tesla’s services.

Susan asked for a test drive of the Tesla Model S.

In this case, Susan is requesting a test drive, which is a service Tesla offers.

When making an information inquiry, using either “inquire” or “ask” depends on the level of formality and the particular context. “Inquire” tends to be more formal and is typically followed by a prepositional phrase, while “ask” can be employed informally and take a direct object.

Exploring Variations of “Inquire” with Different Prepositions

While “inquire” can be used with several prepositions, each combination creates a unique meaning. By understanding the nuances of these variations, you can effectively convey your intended message. This section will discuss the subtle differences between “inquire of,” “inquire for,” “inquire into,” and “inquire about.”

“Inquire Of” and “Inquire For”: Specific Contexts for Use

Inquire of is used when asking someone directly for information. In this case, the person in question is considered the source of knowledge or expertise. An example of using “inquire of” is:

“May I inquire of you the best way to reach the city center?”

On the other hand, inquire for is used to ask about speaking to or meeting someone. It often appears in requests for appointments or attempts to contact certain individuals. An example sentence using “inquire for” might be:

“Jane called the office to inquire for Dr. Thompson’s availability.”

“Inquire Into” vs “Inquire About”: Nuances in Meaning

The phrases inquire into and inquire about both convey different levels of depth in the inquiry process. While “inquire about” implies seeking specific information, “inquire into” suggests delving deeper and closely investigating a situation. To illustrate this distinction, consider the following sentences:

  • Inquire about: “Please, inquire about the status of our application.”
  • Inquire into: “The investigative team is tasked to inquire into the cause of the accident.”

The difference between these two phrases can further be highlighted in a comparative table:

Preposition Purpose Example
About Asking for specific information “Can you inquire about the meeting details?”
Into Investigating a situation or subject more deeply “Detective Brown will inquire into the case further.”

By understanding these variations and nuances in the use of “inquire” with different prepositions, you can effectively communicate your intentions and contribute to clearer conversations.

“To Inquire About Something”: Is There a Better Way to Phrase It?

While the phrase “to inquire about something” is grammatically correct, it may not always be the most effective way to communicate your inquiry. By using specific subjects instead of the vague “something,” you can avoid ambiguity and ensure your question is understood clearly. In this section, we’ll explore more precise methods of phrasing inquiries and discuss some alternative inquiry expressions, providing you with better ways to inquire.

Becoming more precise in your inquiries starts by replacing “something” with the specific subject of your inquiry. For example, if you want to ask about vacation packages, you could phrase your inquiry as “I would like to inquire about vacation packages to the Bahamas.” This type of direct statement leaves no room for ambiguity, allowing the recipient to understand and respond accurately.

When in doubt, always be precise and specific in your inquiries!

Additionally, you can employ synonyms and alternatives to the verb “inquire” to further enhance the clarity of your communication. Some suitable alternatives include:

  1. Ask: “I would like to ask about vacation packages.”
  2. Request information: “Could you provide information on your vacation packages?”
  3. Find out: “I’m interested in finding out more about your vacation packages.”

Each of these alternative inquiry expressions serves to improve communication while remaining grammatically correct.

Beyond replacing the verb “inquire,” you can also restructure your inquiry to focus on the details you are seeking. Consider this table of inquiry examples and their more detailed counterparts:

Vague Inquiry Detailed Inquiry
I would like to inquire about your courses. I would like to inquire about the prerequisites and duration of your computer programming courses.
Can you tell me about your company’s services? Could you please provide more information about your company’s mobile app development services?
I’m interested in your product. I’m interested in the features and pricing of your noise-canceling headphones.

By incorporating these various strategies and focusing on clarity, you can significantly improve the effectiveness of your inquiries, ensuring they are understood and answered accurately. Always remember that phrasing inquiries clearly and concisely is vital for successful communication!

Synonyms and Alternatives to “To Inquire About Something”

There are various synonyms and alternative phrasing options for “to inquire about something,” which allow you to tailor your inquiry to the specific context in which it is being made. Some of these alternatives include “to ask about something,” “to make inquiries about something,” “to request information about,” and “to investigate something.” The choice of the appropriate synonym depends on factors such as formality, subject matter, and the desired tone of your inquiry.

Choosing the Right Synonym for Your Context

When selecting the appropriate synonym for your inquiry, it is essential to consider the context in which you are asking the question. For instance, while some synonyms may work well in casual conversations, you may need a more formal expression in professional settings. Here are some guidelines to help you choose the right phrasing in different contexts:

  1. Informal settings: In casual conversations, you can use simple alternatives like “to ask about something.” This phrasing is easy to understand, straightforward, and works well in discussions with friends, family, or acquaintances.
  2. Professional settings: In a professional environment or when discussing technical subjects, you might opt for phrases like “to request information about” or “to make inquiries about something.” These options convey a more formal tone and signify a level of seriousness or expertise in your inquiry.
  3. Investigative contexts: When your inquiry involves uncovering facts or examining a situation in-depth, using “to investigate something” may be more suitable. This phrasing implies a thorough and exhaustive examination of the subject matter, making it appropriate for research or legal scenarios.

Remember that the choice of phrasing for your inquiry largely depends on the unique context in which it is being made. By considering factors such as formality, subject matter, and tone, you can select the most context-appropriate synonym to convey your inquiry effectively.

“The art of communication is the language of leadership.”

– James Humes

In summary, various synonyms and alternative phrase options allow you to customize your inquiries based on the specific context in which they are being presented. Whether you are engaged in a casual conversation, a professional discussion, or an investigative pursuit, selecting the right synonym for “to inquire about something” can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your communication. As you master the art of inquiry, you will also develop the ability to navigate diverse contexts with ease and leave a lasting impression on your listeners.

Regional Preferences: “Inquire” or “Enquire”?

The primary difference between the terms “inquire” and “enquire” lies in their regional usage and language preferences. English speakers in the United States generally use “inquire,” while British English speakers favor “enquire.” Although these terms share the same meaning, it is essential to consider your target audience and the regional language preferences when deciding which word to use in your writing.

American vs British Usage of Inquiry Terms

Understanding the regional preferences for inquiry terms can not only enhance the clarity of your communication but also demonstrate your cultural sensitivity and awareness. Let’s delve into the distinct usage of the terms “inquire” and “enquire” in American and British English:

American English British English
Inquire Enquire
Inquiry Enquiry
Inquiring Enquiring

In both versions of the language, each term conveys the idea of asking for information. However, some believe that “enquire” is more appropriate for informal situations or preliminary investigations, whereas “inquire” better fits formal investigations or more profound inquiries.

Example: I would like to inquire about the results of the latest marketing strategy. (American English)
I would like to enquire about the results of the latest marketing strategy. (British English)

Overall, regardless of the regional language preferences, the essential aspect to remember is that both “inquire” and “enquire” convey the same action of seeking information or clarification. Be mindful of your readers’ regional preferences and backgrounds when making decisions about which term to use in your writing. This attention to detail showcases your linguistic sensitivity and helps foster effective communication with your target audience.

Conclusion: Mastering the Art of Inquiry in Grammar

As you strive to improve your communication skills, it’s crucial to understand the proper use of “to inquire about something” and its alternatives in the English language. By employing specific subjects instead of the broad term “something” and choosing the right prepositions, you can make your inquiries more effective and clear.

Bearing in mind regional preferences is also essential for successful communication. Choose between “inquire” and “enquire” according to whether you are addressing an American or British audience. This small attention to detail can go a long way in making your inquiry more precise, accurate, and relatable.

Finally, don’t shy away from exploring synonyms when necessary. By selecting the most context-appropriate expressions, you can enhance the quality of your inquiries further. With these grammar tips in mind, you are well on your way to mastering the art of making inquiries that are both effective and grammatically correct.