“Ensure” or “Insure?”

Should I Use “Ensure” or “Insure”

 
Using the word insure where the word ensure should be used is one of the most common word-choice mistakes I see when proofreading work for native and non-native English speakers alike. Thus, I feel it is important to distinguish the meanings of these words in today’s This or That? article.

We’ll start with the meaning of the word ensure. Ensure basically means ‘make sure’ or ‘confirm.’ This is often what people mean when they write insure. See the examples below.

Correct: Please ensure that you have answered all the questions on the form before returning it.

Incorrect: Please insure that you have answered all the questions on the form before returning it.

To insure essentially means to apply an insurance policy to something, as in the following example:

Correct: I didn’t insure the ring when I bought it, so I’m going to have to pay to get it repaired.

Incorrect: I didn’t ensure the ring when I bought it, so I’m going to have to pay to get it repaired.

If you are ever unsure which of these two words you should use, remember this rule: You ensure that you do something (e.g., bring your passport, sign your name), and you insure an object (e.g., a car, a house, your health).


Jake Magnum, author of the Magnum Proofreading Tips blog, is dedicated to helping writers perfect their work. In addition to giving free advice on his blog, Jake helps writers by offering very affordable proofreading services at magnumproofreading.com.

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