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Can I enquire of you the additional question of whether this is also correct? e.g. ___

Can I enquire of you an additional question of whether this is also correct? e.g. ___

I'd like to assume one situation: I asked a question, which is answered by someone. But, making a thankful comment, I desire to ask a supplementary question. In this case, could those be possible?

2

Whew. There's a lot going on here.

One could follow the question of the article. There are things pulling in various directions here, that make it a messy question. For example, you appear to only want to ask one additional question, which might suggest the. However, the fact that additional question will be in a different sentence is, to me, the final factor determining that it should be a. The problem is, that doesn't matter.

The whole sentence is, I'm afraid to say, completely unnatural.

"Can I enquire of you" is not idiomatic. It's not natural, and it's not even something people would say when deliberately being extra informal.

Most informally, it would be:

Can I ask...

Slightly more formally, it would be:

May I ask...

And people trying to be super-formal might say:

Might I enquire...

Now to the rest of the sentence. Essentially, you appear to want to ask another question, but are asking if it's okay to ask a question. The context affects things, but let's assume a very informal context, like you're just chatting with someone. Now, some people use formal register even in informal context, so we can have a range of possibilities. This is not exhaustive; dialect will have some impact, as will personal taste.

Can I ask one more question? ...

This is the simplest, and probably would be heard most often.

May I ask one more question? ...

Marginally more formal, some people are stuff about the use of may vs can.

Might I make one further enquiry? ...

Excessively formal. Don't do this unless you're trying to evoke the 'toff' stereotype or something.

Now, your question is structured in such a way as to suggest that the one further question is effectively a statement that you want confirmed or denied. There's no need for that cue to be in the same sentence, though it makes the super-formal version less awkwardly worded:

Can I ask one more question? Is it correct that...
May I ask one more question? Is it correct that...
Might I enquire into one final point? Is it correct that...

If you want just one more, it's appropriate to use the quantifier one rather than an article. It's also flexible in that you can change the quantifier.

Finally, let's consider some specialist contexts. Say you're a journalist at a press conference. That's not an informal environment, though it's not terribly formal, but it is generally under time pressure. Thus, the usual way to say it in that circumstance would be:

One more question. ...

Or, if they want to be extra polite,

One more question, please

There's some variations, of course, like saying follow-up instead of question.

If it's a one-on-one interview, with no time pressure, it would normally have some extra verbiage. Basically making nice with the interviewee, something like:

That's great, thank you, this has been really good. I just have one more question, if that's okay. Great, so, could you confirm...

If you were in a lecture, and the lecturer/professor doesn't expect unusual familiarity, it might be:

Sorry, one more question. Have I got it right that...

There's infinite variations that seem natural, but I'm afraid the one you give as an example isn't one of them - and once you fix it, the question of the article disappears.


Oh, and by the way, e.g. should be used where you are giving one example from many possibilities, and the equivalent in full words of English is "for example". I wouldn't use it in a situation like this unless you were asking if it is generally okay for people to ask you more questions, and then giving an example of the sort of question they might ask. That's not an impossible scenario, but seems unlikely here without more information.

  • I'm immensely obliged to you. This answer is [a/the] masterpiece. – JYJ Feb 24 at 12:48
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[1] Can I enquire of you the additional question of whether this is also correct?

[2] Can I enquire of you an additional question of whether this is also correct?

Preliminary point: The use of the verb "enquire" is infelicitous here. We could more naturally say "Can I ask you the/an additional question of/about whether ...". Note that the whether expression is a subordinate interrogative clause (embedded question).

The main semantic contribution of a determiner is to mark a noun phrase as definite or indefinite.

The definite article "the" in [1] marks the noun phrase as definite. The implication is that the addressee is aware of that particular question, or at least the nature of it, and I'm enquiring as to whether the referent of "this" is also correct.

By contrast, the indefinite article in [2[ marks the noun phrase as indefinite. There's no implication that the addressee is familiar with the question; it may be one they've never encountered before. It also leaves it open for me to ask more questions.

  • Thanks a lot. I thought 'the' in [1] could be used as a cataphoric use or a stylistic device (e.g. the title of the book: The Pearl / The Scarlet Letter / The Harlot's House / The Bride / The Catbird Seat / The Enemy) Let me give a supplementary example. 'The picture of Dorian Gray' by Oscar Wilde. The first line of the book says: 'The' studio was filled with the rich odour of roses... I – JYJ Feb 24 at 13:19
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In this case an is more correct, because you're not referring to a specific additional question.

An is an indefinite article, which can refer to anything. The is a definite article, which refers to one specific thing.

In this case, an would refer to any additional question, whereas the would refer to a specific additional question.

Please note that you should also be using may instead of can. May refers to permission to do something, whereas can refers to ability. Presumably you're able to ask another question. What you'd really like to know is whether the person answering will allow you to do so.

  • 2
    Correct answer for use of articles, but I would definitely avoid saying than an English language learner 'should' use may instead of can. English language learners have to speak English in the real world, where they will probably encounter vastly more people who will say 'can I' than 'may I'. After getting on for 200 years'-worth of common usage, I don't think we can insist only 'may' is the only correct form any more. quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/can-versus-may – fred2 Feb 23 at 2:58
  • 1
    -1 No, this isn't right. There is a specific additional question being asked about: Whether this is also correct. If that had been left out, and the sentence stopped after question, then an would have been appropriate as you suggest. But there can't be more than a single, specific question that asks Is this also correct? It's the same thing as saying, "May I ask you the following question: 'Is this also correct?'" – Jason Bassford Feb 23 at 15:10
  • @JasonBassford I think that ignoring the other problematic parts of the sentence isn’t helpful. Sure the definite article belongs in “can I ask the additional question of...” but a native speaker would be unlikely to express it that way. “Would you mind if I ask you another question about...” You’re trying to straighten the drapes in the leaning tower of Pisa. – ColleenV Feb 23 at 19:48
  • @ColleenV You've just said exactly what I've said. :) Ignoring the other parts of the question isn't helpful. The answer to this question should be particular to this question. – Jason Bassford Feb 23 at 19:57

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