Word Confusion: Assure vs Ensure vs Insure

Posted May 6, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 25 June 2017

Well, assure may be a verb, but you’ll notice in the definitions as well as the examples that assure is almost 100 percent verbal…pretty punny, huh?…verb…verbal… Okay, so I’ll never make it as a comic, but it does make the point. I assure you…

This “differences” between ensure and insure are actually fairly simple: insure is used exclusively with regards to insurance, otherwise you can use them interchangeably in the United States. Don’cha just love when that happens!?

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Assure Ensure Insure
Credit to: Apple’s Dictionary

“Julien Bryan – Expres Wieczorny – 50900” by Julien Bryan is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Photographer Julien Bryan assures a ten-year-old Polish girl named Kazimiera Mika.

“Wood Glue and Clamping the Pieces Before Screwing Them Together” is Boohyabuddha’s own work under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons.

The clamps ensure that the pieces bond well.

Image from “The Literary Digest”, page 466, 1890, is courtesy of Internet Archive Book Images and has no restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons.

Insure yourself with Prudential.

Part of Grammar:
Verb; Verb, transitive

Third person present verb: assures
Past tense or past participle: assured
Gerund or Present participle: assuring

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: ensures
Past tense or past participle: ensured
Gerund or Present participle: ensuring

Verb, intransitive & transitive

Third person present verb: insures
Past tense or past participle: insured
Gerund or Present participle: insuring

Tell someone positively or confidently to dispel any doubt they may have

  • Make someone sure of something

Verb, transitive
Tell someone something positively or confidently to dispel any doubts they may have

Make something certain to happen

  • [Chiefly British] Cover a person with life insurance
  • Secure the future payment of (an amount) with insurance
Verb, intransitive
Make sure a problem will not occur

Verb, transitive
Make certain something shall occur or be the case

Make sure of obtaining or providing something

Verb, intransitive
To underwrite

Make insurance

Verb, transitive
Arrange for compensation in the event of damage to loss of property or injury to or the death of someone in exchange for regular advance payments to a company or government agency

Provide insurance coverage with respect to

Insure some against a possible contingency

You would be assured of a fine welcome.

She assured him that the baby was asleep.

Verb, transitive
Tony assured me that there was a supermarket in the village.

“I quite understand,” Mrs. Lewis assured her.

They assured him of their full confidence.

Victory was now assured.

Their influence assured that the report would be tough.

Verb, intransitive
You should ensure against that dog biting people.

Verb, transitive
The client must ensure that accurate records are kept.

She would ensure him a place in society.

Verb, intransitive
Businesses can insure against exchange rate fluctuations.

Subsidiaries set up to insure the risks of a group of companies.

Such changes could insure against further violence and unrest.

Verb, transitive
We’ve insured the house with Allstate.

By appeasing Celia they might insure themselves against further misfortune.

Adjective: unassuring
Noun: assurance, assurer, assuror
Verb, transitive: interassure, interassured, interassuring, preassure, preassured, preassuring
Adjective: insurable
Noun: insurability
Verb, transitive: overinsure, overinsured, overinsuring, preinsure, preinsured, preinsuring
Adjective: insurable
Noun: insurability, insurance
History of the Word:
Late Middle English from Old French assurer which is based on the Latin ad- ‘to’ (expressing change) + securus (secure) Late Middle English from Anglo-Norman French enseurer, an alteration of the Old French aseurer, an earlier form of assurer Late Middle English, an alteration of ensure

Probably when they figured out about the money that could be made with insurance premiums…

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits

Typographic Print Grammar Print for Ensure vs. Insure vs Assure is a typographic print from Grammatical Art.Etsy.com.

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