Enquire and inquire both mean to ask or seek information about something. The corresponding nouns are enquiry and inquiry.
Basically there is no big difference in meaning between these words. It can be generally said that inquire is the common form in the USA and enquire in Britain.
However, there are writers – particularly in Britain – who make a slight distinction between the two forms of the word. They use enquire simply as a synonym of ask in a general sense. Inquire is used with the meaning of making a formal investigation.
My boss enquired about the passing away of our dog.
The police are making inquiries to find the owner of the abandoned car.
If you write American English, you could use inquire, but otherwise you need not worry about which form is correct. As always, choose one form and be consistent throughout your text!
Most writers either use these two words indiscriminately or simply choose cooperation without even reflecting on the alternative collaboration.
The main difference between the two words is that collaboration involves people working together towards a shared goal, while cooperation implies somebody working to support somebody else’s goal.
As a copyeditor, I work with the author of a text. The author wants me to make sure the manuscript is in fluent English without any linguistic or factual errors. (You can read here about how I work.) The author may ask for comments on a certain passage and I may want clarification of what the author intends. I can suggest an alternative formulation. Our shared objective is an article that deals with an interesting topic, has perfect language and format and is of such a quality altogether that it can be accepted for publication. That is collaboration. Collaboration is teamwork requiring mutual respect, trust and adaptability.
In my job as a copyeditor I may come across a word that is totally unknown to me. I can then call an expert to ask about that word. For example, I once called the coast guard to ask what word they used in a certain context. Thanks to their cooperation I could achieve my goal – to use that word correctly.
Should you have a hyphen or not? The answer is here.
Perhaps some writers hesitate to use the word collaboration since it has a less agreeable connotation. A collaborator is someone who helps an enemy that has occupied their country in a war.
Furthermore and moreover are often understood as synonyms. However, there is a difference in meaning between them.
Use furthermore when you add something to what you just said.
Earlier research has shown that this applies to several sectors. Furthermore, this has been confirmed in our interviews.
Use moreover to indicate that you add something beyond what has been said, something different. Sometimes moreover could be said to mean ”further and more importantly”.
Using your cellphone while driving is against the law in some countries. Moreover, you risk your own life and that of others.
Furthermore and moreover are transitional words. Transitional words (or transition words) are used to describe relationships between ideas, to help the reader progress from one idea to the next. They can, for example, express addition (also, and, besides, further, likewise, again), contrast (but, however, on the contrary), time (after, before, usually, finally), space (above, below, behind, opposite), details (especially, particularly) and consequence (therefore, hence, consequently, because).
To sum up: Furthermore (in addition to what has been said) adds information.
Moreover (beyond what has been said) builds up the argument, ”not only that”, adds a reason of a different kind, adds to diversity, ”more importantly”.
Generally speaking, big describes weight or extent, large is often related to dimensions or volume and great suggests something impressive. Great is often used with abstract nouns.
Big is used more often than large. In fact, big is one of the most frequent words in the English language. Big may also sound a little less formal than large.
They have a big mansion in the countryside.
Big often means important, powerful, successful: That’s a big decision. He is a big tycoon in the automotive industry.
Big can also mean older or elder: My big brother has helped me a lot.
As mentioned above, large often refers to dimension or volume. They have a large house with a very large garden. I have a large collection of posters from the 1960s.
Large is more common with some quantity words such as the following: A large amount A large number To a large extent On a large scale A large percentage A large quantity
With food and clothes we use large: I’d like a large coffee, please. Those shoes are too large for you.
Large, not big, is used in the combination small, medium, large.
The expression at large has two meanings, 1) free, at liberty and 2) as a whole, in general: The prisoner is still at large. These findings relate to society at large.
Big and large are only used with countable nouns (read here about countable and uncountable nouns). You cannot talk about *big traffic or *large traffic (for the use of the asterisk, read at the end of this text). Instead we use heavy traffic, intense traffic or a lot of traffic.
Big and large often overlap in meaning when we talk about size. A big house. A large house.
It is sometimes said that big implies an element of emotion, surprise, etc., especially in fixed expressions such as the following: Big deal! She’s a big fan of the Rolling Stones. He’s a big liar.
A big-headed man is not the same as a large-headed man! A big-headed man thinks he is more important or cleverer than others, while a large-headed man just has a large head.
Susan is my big sister – she is older than me. Susan is my large sister – she is physically larger than my other siblings.
Great implies a large size: All creatures great and small.
Great often means distinguished, remarkable: She is one of the greatest novelists of our time. The performance was a great success. I have great respect for her abilities. He has great wisdom. My cousin is really great at tennis.
To vary your language, you should use synonyms. In a dictionary of synonyms you will find many words to describe size or importance, such as huge, enormous, sizeable, impressive, momentous, substantial, comprehensive, extensive, immense, tremendous, prominent, distinguished, etc.
The words personal and personnel are easily confused, even if they are pronounced differently. The word personal has the stress on the first syllable, while personnel has a heavy stress on the last syllable, rhyming with carousel.
Something that is private, that relates to or is owned by one person is personal.
When away from work I use my personal computer. You must keep this in your personal file. When he was promoted, he was allowed to have a personal secretary. Is that your personal opinion? Don’t take it as a personal attack.
The people employed in an organisation form the personnel. Personnel refers to human resources. The word can be used in the singular to denote all employees as a whole or in the plural to denote a group of individual employees.
All personnel is required to strictly follow these instructions. Four security personnel were injured when a gunman opened fire on their patrol. Who is responsible for the personnel file? You’d better check with Personnel (with the Human Resources Department).
Now you should be able to understand the difference between a personal issue and a personnel issue. The first refers to a matter concerning just one person; the second refers to a matter concerning all employees.
Staff is often used synonymously with personnel. The use varies between organisations. Staff can denote people who work for a special purpose, assist a manager or work under a supervisor.
She is on the editorial staff of the journal. You may use the car park for senior staff. He’s in a staff meeting; you’d better send him an email.
Staff can also be a verb:
We are happy to report that we are now fully staffed. We can staff your facility with our employees.
A dictionary of synonyms suggests alternative words:
You can find more about dictionaries of synonyms here.
A dictionary of collocations shows how a word can be combined with other words and parts of speech:
Read more about dictionaries of collocations here.
Finally, a thesaurus builds on concepts and ideas and will give you lots and lots of closely and more remotely related words and expressions:
A thesaurus gives you ample opportunity to vary your text, but you need to understand nuances in meaning. Under Vb. (Verb) we find neutral phrases such as be in charge and have overall responsibility but also expressions from working life such as take the helm (of a ship), take the chair (lead a meeting) and hold the reins (of a horse). We also find more informal phrases such as wear the trousers, which implies someone who is in control and makes decisions. You would not use that expression in a serious text about the CEO of a company!
A dictionary is a list of words and their definitions. A thesaurus (plural thesauri or thesauruses) does not give definitions of words but lists words grouped together according to their meaning.
The first modern thesaurus, published in 1852 by Peter Mark Roget, is still widely used. The book is organised according to ideas or concepts. You first look up a word in the index in the second half of the book, where you will find one or several synonyms for that word, each with a reference number. Under production, for example, in my copy of Roget’s I find the words product, production and dramaturgy. The first two words refer to section 164 and the third to 594 (having to do with drama and ballet). Here you can see a part of section 164 (the numbers before some of the words refer to further sections in the book):
You will notice the richness of expressions here. There are concrete words such as thing, designer and skyscraper and more abstract ones such as attempt, productivity and idea. When you use a thesaurus like this, you need to understand nuances in meaning.
The Longman Language Activator is in a way similar to Roget’s; it is based on concepts. However, it is called a production dictionary instead of a thesaurus – it will help writers produce their ideas. Here is a part of the entry on manager:
Often the word thesaurus is used to denote a dictionary of synonyms or any kind of dictionary.
You can see a comparison between different types of dictionaries here.
A synonym is a word with the same or almost the same meaning as another word. Occur is a synonym for happen; generally and usually are synonyms and so are big, large and great. An antonym is the opposite of a synonym.
Synonyms are useful for creating variation in a text. Instead of writing nice several times, you can use pleasant, agreeable, enjoyable, delightful, charming, etc.
You must understand that there are nuances; one synonym may have a slightly different meaning than another and there may also be differences in usage. You can read more about this in my post about big, large and great.
Before you decide to use a certain synonym you must be sure (1) that the word you choose has the meaning you intend and (2) that it is used in a correct way.
Examples of printed dictionaries of synonyms are Collins English Thesaurus Longman Synonym Dictionary Oxford Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms You can get them from your bookshop or, e.g., Amazon, Bokus or Adlibris.
The following resources, among others, can be found online:
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