Are You Sure It’s Ensure?

Don’t you hate it when two words not only sound alike (homophones) but also have similar meanings? What’s a writer to do? I’d like to assure you that there is a difference between insure and ensure. I find the easiest way to differentiate the two words is to think of insurance, something we all have to pay money for (often more money than we really want to pay).

Insure means to pro­tect against loss. Example: I’m going to insure the ship­ment for $5,000.

Ensure means to make sure, make cer­tain, to guar­an­tee. Example: I will ensure that the ship­ment arrives by Friday.

Assure means to give the per­son con­fi­dence, to inform pos­i­tively. The object of the verb assure should always refer to a per­son. Example: I assure you, we’ll do all that’s pos­si­ble to get the ship­ment there by Friday.

I wish I could assure you that you have the necessary insurance, but in order to ensure that you do, I would have to see your policy. Make sense?


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