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When I taught English grammar classes, I taught a 10-minute homophone lesson at the start of each class for the first 12 weeks of school.
Reminder: Homophones are words that sound the same but have different meanings.
Why? To ensure my students were ready to meet the challenge we all face with word sound traps. We have all encountered those word pairs that cause that 30-second pause.
“Wait, is it insure or ensure?”
So, what is the difference between ensure and insure?
These words are not only similar in sound, but also similar in meaning. Yet, similar does not mean they can be used interchangeably.
With all the debates on the Oxford comma and which grammar rules are still worth following, homophones confusions are generally cleared up without much debate. So I’m going to share the difference between these two words, and also give some examples of insure vs. ensure.
Here’s the difference between ensure and insure.
Insure vs. ensure
You’re not the only one who has difficulty differentiating between these two similar words!
Ensure means to make sure or guarantee something happens.
Use the word “ensure” when you want to guarantee an outcome.
Insure means to take measures or precautions to guarantee it will protect something if something happens.
Use the word “insure” when you want to guarantee an outcome by use of an official and specified protection.
Examples of insure or ensure
To ensure you understand when to use ensure vs. insure, I’m going to use examples.
Here are some examples of how to properly use ensure:
Giving multiple examples ensures greater understanding.
Grammar lessons didn’t eliminate homophone mistakes for my students, but it ensured they would know how to fix them.
Here are some examples of how to properly use insure:
I know many people who pay to insure their travel plans to avoid fees due to cancellations.
I don’t personally know anyone who insures their body parts, but know of celebrities who do.
Tina Turner, Maria Carey, Heidi Klum and David Beckham have all insured their legs.
Did you notice the difference in usage of ensures vs. insures? That can get tricky.
The confusion ends here: here’s the difference between ensure and insure
Remember: Use “insures” when referring to the specific idea of protection that has a policy attached, and use “ensures” when referring to actions done to guarantee a specific outcome.
For example: “To ensure I don’t have to pay additional fees, I decided to insure my trip.”
If we think of this idea in sport’s terms, “ensure” is your offensive player trying to make sure you reach your goal, and “insure” is your defensive player protecting you from the pitfalls that may occur along the way.
We insure our lives, cars, health, travel, and in J-Lo’s case, our butts, to guarantee what we are officially protected if something bad happens. We do this to ensure the best possible results. Make sense?
Well, I hope this helped ensure you won’t be confused about these two words again.
You’ll have to do what you can to ensure you keep yourself safe traveling along “the sentence streets” of your writing life.
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