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Figure of Speech

Ensure Vs Insure for Students

The English language can often be pretty confusing even for the most accomplished of its exponents. This is because English is perhaps the only language, that has been in constant evolution with constantly added new words, phrases and their usage, that have been added through centuries not only enriching it but also making it mind-bogglingly vast. No wonder, the English language has thousands of words with similar meanings but different pronunciations and vice versa. Then there are words whose spellings differ from each other in only a single character. Most often, it is the words that rhyme and are derived from the same root that are very confusing. Therefore, it is only natural that, for most people, the language has become a trap that they fall into. While speaking, interchanging vaguely similar words can often be glossed over but, you will definitely get caught if you confuse words during writing. Take insure and ensure for example. Only a thin line divides the two words, but most often a majority of unsuspecting speakers and writers, accidentally or otherwise, do not fail to trip on it. To have a proper understanding of how to use these two words and know the differences between them, continue reading the next section.

Difference Between Ensure and Insure

There is only a subtle difference between insure and ensure and, since these two words sound very similar, it is easy to accidentally mix them; especially in verbal communication. It is important to remember that only in special circumstances can these two words be used interchangeably. Insure and ensure have the same Latin root which means “to make secure”. Therefore, insure and ensure can loosely mean to guarantee or suggest a sense of making something sure but they also have very distinct meanings.

Insure

Insure is generally defined as, taking certain measures or precautions against some unforeseeable negative consequences. That is, insure is a coverage against a specified loss or damage. Though insure can be used for a person, place or thing, it is most commonly used for limited financial liability as in obtaining an insurance policy. Thus, insure is always used in financial context.

Insure Examples:

  • We insured our house against fire and flood damage.
  • I found a company that will insure my car for less than I’ve been paying.
  • This policy will insure your car against theft.
  • She had difficulty finding a company that would insure her.
  • They take great care to insure the safety and security of their home.
  • We hope that careful planning will insure success.
  • He found the language not obscene … but did find it intentionally disruptive, and held that school officials had the right to insure that a high-school assembly proceed in an orderly manner, without hoots and howls and all that snickering. – William Safire, New York Times Magazine, 24 Aug. 1986.
  • My new car is not yet insured.
  • Our house was insured when the storm hit.

Ensure

Generally speaking, ‘ensure’ is to be certain of or to make sure or act towards being safe. Keep in mind to use ‘ensure’ whenever you need to suggest guaranteeing something.

Ensure Examples:

  • The lifejacket had almost certainly ensured her survival.
  • Our new system ensures that everyone gets paid on time.
  • They took steps to ensure the safety of the passengers.
  • The airline is taking steps to ensure safety on its aircraft.
  • The role of the police is to ensure that the law is obeyed.
  • Their 2-0 victory today has ensured the Italian team a place in the Cup Final / ensured a place in the Cup Final for the Italian team.
  • To ensure there’d be enough food, she ordered twice as much food as last year.

In Modern English

  • Now that we understand the origins of the two words, should we use insure or ensure? To define ensure has never been a difficult task. The meaning “to make sure” leaps out from its etymological history, and it can be used in exactly this sense with no variation.
  • Regarding insure, the definition is clear concerning its primary meaning – it is the same as ensure. The words can be used interchangeably in this sense. Its secondary meaning, however, “to make sure/protect against damage by financial payments”, stems from cultural developments and not etymological trends.
  • The important point is this: if your context demands a word meaning “to make sure”, you can use either ensure or insure. However, if your context demands a word relating to protection against damage by making payments, you can use insure only.

Ensure And Insure

The exact meaning of ensure and insure will be clear from the following examples where they are used in the same sentence to bring out the subtle differences between them.
  • I told you that we have insured the grounds to ensure that we will be protected in case of a lawsuit stemming from an accident.
  • Joe assured his wife that he would insure their home to ensure that earthquake damage would be covered.
  • I am telling you that Morgan did ensure that the company will insure both vehicles.
  • Please ensure that you insure the building against risks of fire, riots or civil commotion.
  • When people want to ensure (make sure) that their valuables are safe, they insure (get insurance) them.
  • Please ensure that you remember to insure your car.
  • I ensure you that you need to insure your house.

In Common Context

Ensure and insure can sometimes be used interchangeably. The subtle difference between the words is apparent mostly in the American and British English usage.

Examples:

British English: We wish to ensure the safety of our passengers.
American English: We wish to insure the safety of our passengers.

However, nowadays, in both British and American usage, insure is used to suggest compensation for financial loss. In British English, the meaning of ensure is distinct, i.e. to be certain that something will happen, while in American English, the distinction between the words have almost assimilated.

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