Assure, ensure, insure: How to keep them straight

Many people use these three terms interchangeably, and they shouldn’t. The words have discrete meanings. Here’s how to remember which to use in a particular context.

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“Ensure” and “insure” derive from the Latin word securus, which means “safe” or “secure.” This Latin word also give us “sure,” “secure,” “assure,” and “security.” These three verbs—assure, ensure, insure—all have the same general meaning: “to make sure.” The devil is in the details, and context is key to determining when to use each of these words.

The simplest way I’ve found to keep these three words straight is as follows:

Quick tip: You can only assure things that are aliveassure/alive—both start with A.

Quick tip: If I’m trying to ensure something, I’m trying to guarantee an outcome—ensure/guarantee—remember the double E in guarantee to use ensure.

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