I’ve seen this come up a lot lately so it must be time for a repeat…
These might be the most commonly confused words in the English language. Believe it or not, these three words are not interchangeable. (Not even two of them.)
ASK: Are you talking about a person?
Assure means to make someone feel confident about something. The thing to remember about “assure” is that it only applies to a person.
Synonyms: comfort, convince, guarantee
ASK: Are you talking about paying to protect something?
Insure is correctly used specifically regarding insurance. People often confuse insure and ensure. You cannot insure that the customer will be satisfied just like you cannot ensure your car through a Geico policy.
Synonyms: cover, protect
ASK: Are you talking about a person or financially protecting something?
If the answer to the above question is “yes” then “ensure” is not the correct word choice. Ensure simply means “to make certain.” Ensure does not refer to insurance and it is not meant to be used in reference to a person. Ensure is often used in business contracts when referring to an informal guarantee.
Synonyms: certify, guarantee, warrant
If you are not sure which of these three words to use, you have two options:
- Ask the questions above to decide which category applies to your sentence.
- Choose a different way to state your sentence. There is always another way to say the same thing.
Unfortunately, the spell-check feature on most computers will not catch the misuse of these words.
Unscripted is happy to provide some professional assistance with selecting the correct word choice. Just visit the contact page here.