Is there a formal alternative for the word ask?

For example, "I would like to ask about the function below".

Is there any way to say it formally?

I do not mean request. I am not requesting the functionality. I am just asking, discussing, talking about the function. As far as I know, request is more like to look to get and obtain.

Thank you very much for your answer!

  • 2
    There's "inquire" ... but you shouldn't think that ask is in any way 'informal' or 'vulgar'. The most famous line from John Kennedy's inaugural address is "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Dec 29, 2015 at 0:42

3 Answers 3


I can't think of any situation in which "I would like to ask about the function below" would be considered too informal; so it should be fine as it stands.

'Ask' should be considered neutral rather than being formal or informal in-and-of-itself; it is what you combine it with that determines how formal the sentence is as a whole.

However, if you want an alternative which does carry a connotation of formality, you can substitute 'inquire', as in:

"I would like to inquire about the function below".

'Enquire' is an alternative spelling of the same word which might come across slightly differently, depending on the audience; if you're unsure, 'inquire' is likely the safe bet.

  • Thank you! Inquire is what I am looking for. I love your answer.
    – Superuser
    Dec 29, 2015 at 2:51

I think enquire would be the most appropriate.

From a site linked to the OED:Link

In practice, however, enquire, and the associated noun enquiry, are more common in British English while inquire (and the noun inquiry) are more common in American English, but otherwise there is little discernible distinction in the way the words are used. Some style guides require that only inquire or only enquire be used.

Could I enquire about your mother's health? She inquired about the library's rare books collection. Every enquiry is very welcome. Adam helped the police with their inquiries.


An enquiry is to ask about something; an inquiry is a formal investigation such as a police inquiry.

  • 1
    Do you have any credible source that makes that distinction? All the dictionaries I've checked just say enquiry is a variation of inquiry: thefreedictionary.com/enquiry
    – ColleenV
    May 17, 2016 at 19:45

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