These three words are very different in my mind. VERY different. And it drives me crazy when they are used incorrectly in official documents. I forgive layperson speech (but I still notice it). In the last few days I have seen "insure" used for "ensure" multiple times on documents from organizations that support higher education. Drives me crazy.
Here's the thing. Most people don't understand the difference between these words. Let me help you out.
Assure: This is the easiest one. Assure means to tell someone that something is true, or instill confidence in what you say, putting their worries to rest. I assure you that I will not eat your ice cream when you leave the room. (Muahaha. Sometimes people lie.)
Ensure: This more or less means to actually make sure something happens or doesn't happen. I am going to take my ice cream with me to ensure that Molly does not eat it while I am gone. (Boo.)
Insure: While this seems very similar to ensure, just think of insurance. No one is going to make sure something does or doesn't happen. They are just going to provide you with monetary backing or similar compensation in the event that said "thing" does or doesn't happen. I am going to insure my ice cream, so that if Molly eats it, the bank will pay me back for my losses.
While I'd guess that ensure and insure have the same etymology and may have been used interchangeably in the distant past, the connotation that accompanies the word insure nowadays is undeniably monetary in nature, while ensure does not carry this connotation. So I say they should be distinct and not interchangeable. That is my opinion.
Here is an example of "insure" that I read today:
In order to insure the confidentiality of the letters of recommendation, this set of documents should not
Who can tell me what is wrong with that sentence? I can assure you that it is wrong.
Do you agree or disagree?
Grammar is often subject to debate, you know. (But I'll win that debate, because all things on my blog are based on my opinion. Muahaha.)
3 years ago