While insure is fairly easy to remember, assure and ensure seem to confuse a lot of people and are often used incorrectly.
Insure – verb –to provide or obtain insurance for financial protection against loss. 2. To make certain especially by taking precautions
Assure – verb – 1. to convince or make certain 2. to inform positively, give confidence
Ensure – verb – to make sure, certain or safe
Let’s start with insure since it is the easiest one to remember. When you think of insure think of insurance. When you insure something, you purchase financial protection. In other words, you buy insurance. Insure and insurance have similar spellings which is a great way to remember this one.
Assure and Ensure
These two words are a bit trickier. Review the definitions at the top of the page. Their definitions are similar, so how do you determine proper usage?
When you assure someone, you make a promise to them. Example: I assured the kids we would get to the game on time. (I promised the kids we would get to the game on time.)
Ensure means to guarantee. Example: I took steps to ensure we made it to the game on time. (We left early in order to make it to the game on time.) Mignon Fogarty, the Grammar Girl, offers this memory trick to remember ensure. Since ensure means to guarantee, you can think about two Es. Guarantee ends in two Es, and ensure is spelled with two Es.
Do you have a grammar question? Let me know about it in the comments. I’ll answer your question in a future Grammar Tips post.