Assure vs. Ensure vs. Insure

True story. An executive at a company I used to work for would kick off every staff meeting with the same presentation. The opening slide would remind us that we were all responsible for "insuring the continued success of the division."

It always cracked me up.


After all, I'm sure the employees had been working hard to ensure the success of the division but I'm not sure how we could have insured it.

The following three words - assure, ensure, insure - all mean to guarantee or to make certain.

The best advice I've seen in how to distinguish among them is to use:

Assure for people.
Ensure for things.
Insure for money and guarantees.

Now I know that some purists will note that ensure and insure were used interchangeably in the past. But the reality is that nowadays, most people make a distinction between the two.

So for example:

  • We assured the executive that we were all working very hard (i.e., we promised him we were).

  • We ensured the division's success with our hard work (i.e., our hard work made it more likely that the company would succeed).

  • But it's unlikely that we insured the division's success (i.e., it's unlikely that the employees bought insurance to protect against the division's financial loss).

So how does this apply to you?

Well, I assure you that learning how to use these words correctly will help ensure your success on test day. But, unfortunately, there's no way for you to insure it!

Hope this helps! Happy Friday!

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