5

Is there an English adjective [A] such that the following two sentences are almost the same in meaning?

  • "Joe is a very [A] person"
  • "Joe is always asking questions"

The phrase "always asking questions" has connotations of being nosey, but that's not what I mean.

A question similar to mine was asked:

A person who frequently asks questions even though they know the answer

Assume Joe does NOT already know the answers to his question.

I want an adjective to describe someone who innocently asks questions on a regular basis, and they don't already know the answer.

"querulous" has negative connotations. I want something positive/friendly.

A word similar to "curious" might work.
However, "curious" people can sometimes be very quiet.

I am searching for a word which literally means "asks questions often," implying that they are a bit of a motor-mouth, rather than a shy, quiet person.

3

4 Answers 4

41

Your question seems not quantitative but qualitative, not objective but subjective.

I would use "inquisitive" for that adjective that you are looking for.

'inquisitive' definition (Collins Cobuild, Collins online):

An inquisitive person likes finding out about things, especially secret things.

https://en.dict.naver.com/#/entry/enko/e2646b9aaef241e3b521a79dc54ce47e

3

I think I prefer "inquiring" as an adjective. (But Brandon's suggestion of "inquisitive" is a good choice too)

Merriam Webster defines the verb "inquire" as:

1: to put a question : seek for information by questioning inquired about the horses
2: to make investigation or inquiry —often used with into

it also lists "inquiring" as a suitable adjective.

On the other hand, Merriam Webster defines "inquisitive"

  1. given to examination or investigation
  2. inclined to ask questions
    especially : inordinately or improperly curious about the affairs of others

While inquisitive is a great answer, I would argue for inquiring for two (admittedly completely subjective) reasons.

  1. MW's second definition may seem like it may bleed into nosy. (although I think MW overstates it)
  2. "Inquisitive" may be trying to figure things out, but it may not always come in the form of verbal questions. "Inquiring" seems slightly more likely to make others think of actual questions. Howeer, as someone who self-identifies as curious, inquisitive, inquiring, probably not nosy, but definitely very shy, only a small fraction of those questions actually make it out of my mouth.
1
  • 1
    Saying “very inquiring person” doesn’t sound idiomatic to me. Indeed, based off what I found in COCA, I would say that you have to use inquisitive when you are describing a person, though both “has an inquiring/inquisitive mind” are valid (with “inquiring” being slightly more popular).
    – Laurel
    Jan 9, 2021 at 16:19
0

I don't think there is an exact idiomatic word for this in English. In Spanish, if a student just keeps asking questions in a lecture, you can say in this context that they are a 'preguntón' (ie. never stops asking questions, they just ask questions because they like asking questions regardless of the answer).

I thought about this before and do not think there is an exact word in English. Inquisitive and inquiring are much too formal for daily use, and nosy has very negative connotations that the person is constantly trying to elicit information. Maybe closest thing is 'question asker' but that is a bit lame.

0

I've been writing investigative journalism, legal motions with attached briefs as a defense lawyer, and even tried to write gaming reviews and fiction too, when I was able to try, so I have been professionally wrestling with our language and its real life uses for almost 35 years now.

Whether you're speaking with a friend or giving a closing argument to 12 jurors, English words and synonyms will always mean slightly different things to separate people and can even be made to evolve to new usages and meaning by people using the terms over time differently. I'm only trying to add here that our language is a living, evolving list that is updated at least annually by these dictionary publishers to reflect "common usage." That's why 'to Google' something is a verb now.

My point is simply that words don't really follow right and wrong as much as we are told in 1st grade. Another few synonyms for 'constantly asking questions' could be 'analytical,' 'investigative,' or even 'intrusive.' Even though they sound a bit off from what was originally asked, these words are virtually the same action of questioning, constantly. Remember, unlike mathematics or programming, language is far from simply right or wrong. One can only do their best and maybe rewrite it again later.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.