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Grammar Is Sexy

Are You Sure?

Today’s post discusses the difference among three words: assure, insure, and ensure. A reader asked me to explain the difference, noting that even news broadcasts get this one wrong at times.

Though they sound and look similar, these words have somewhat different meanings. Let’s explore these meanings and have a bit of fun along the way.

Assure means “to tell someone in a very strong and definite way that something will happen or that something is true.” As Mignon Fogarty of Grammar Girl clarifies, assure implies a removal of doubt or anxiety, and thus it usually applies to living things capable of these emotions.

Insure means “to buy insurance for (something, such as property or health)” or “to provide insurance for (something, such as property or health).” This one is fairly self-explanatory.

Ensure means “to make something sure, certain, or safe.” Grammar Girl gives a helpful tip for telling ensure apart from insure: “You can remember that guarantee has those two e’s on the end to help you remember that to ensure (with an e) is to guarantee something.”

To show the different meanings of these words in action, here’s a sentence that uses all three:

“After her agent assured her that her policy did not insure against a zombie pirate attack, she took measures to ensure that her business would be safe.”

Assure Ensure Insure Zombie Pirates Illustration

I hope this post cleared up your question, dear reader, and I hope others found it helpful as well. As always, I’d love your feedback on this post. Also, if you have any other questions about grammar or writing, please send them to me at ransom@grammarissexy.net or Tweet them to me @RansomPatterson, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

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