Are you sure?

If you often see ensure and insure used interchangeably, or you yourself confuse the words, rest assured, you’re not alone. The words’ definitions overlap considerably: “Ensure” means to make certain, and one meaning of “insure” is to make certain by taking necessary action. Choosing the correct word based on these definitions alone requires careful precision.

But, because “insure” has another commonly used meaning related to insurance, you can draw a clearer line when it comes to deciding which word to use. Many usage manuals, including the Annenberg Style Guide that powers Stylebot, take this opportunity and advise that “ensure” should be used to mean to make certain and that “insure” should refer to insurance.

A screenshot of a message from Stylebot on Slack that reads: "Ensure" and "insure" are closely related, but use "ensure" to mean to make certain: "He did his best to ensure that he got an A on the paper." Reserve "insure" for references to insurance: "She is insured by State Farm." "Assure" should be used to mean "to give confidence": "She assured him it would be OK."

And what about swapping “ensure” with assure? This can be justified, too, based on the words’ definitions, but generally, think about it like this: You assure someone, but you ensure that something will happen.

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