Inquire about [question] vs inquire if [answer]

Tenacious Learner

Senior Member
Spanish
Hi teachers,
A student asked me, 'Why is there 'about' after inquire in the question and I can't use 'about' in the answer?'
Even though the question and answer sound natural to me, I just don't know the answer to that question.

Context: Jennifer Bassett, The President's Murderer.
According to these paragraphs:
Chief,Felix began. How did Dinon escape from prison?
‘That’s not important now,’ the Chief said.
‘But perhaps he had friends in prison,’ Felix said. ‘Perhaps they know something. I need to talk to people at the prison.’

This is a suitable question and answer:
What did Felix want to inquire
about in the prison?
He wanted to inquire
if Dinon had friends in prison and if they knew something.

Thanks in advance.

 
Last edited:
  • e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    You can use he wanted to inquire about whether Dinon etc. This seems to me a needlessly complicated way of saying "He wanted to ask whether/if".

    Inquire (unlike ask) cannot take a direct object, but must be followed by a preposition, e.g. about. Example: He inquired about the way to the post office = He asked the way to the post office (to ask about/after means to seek information about, e.g. "He asked/inquired after/about my health.").
     

    Tenacious Learner

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You can use he wanted to inquire about whether Dinon etc. This seems to me a needlessly complicated way of saying "He wanted to ask whether/if".
    Hi e2efour,
    Thank you for your reply. You are right!
    Then, I'll rephrase the question:
    What did Felix want to ask about in the prison?
    He wanted to ask if Dinon ...
    Will it be better?
    What did Felix want to investigate in the prison?

    TS

     
    Last edited:

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I think AE allows a direct object after inquire (e.g. He inquired the way to the art gallery). It can also (in BE and AE) take a clause as the object (e.g. They inquired why he had arrived late). But I think you are safer with the answer ask if/whether Dinon had made friends in (the) prison.
    Investigate
    is usually followed by whether and never with a preposition.
     
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