Eloquent English #11- Assure, Insure and Ensure

Hey everyone! I didn’t do this from a long time so I’m back with another Eloquent English post.wpid-14468199375352.jpg

And today’s words are- Assure, insure and ensure.

These three verbs are all have the core sense of attaining certainty or security, and in several contexts they can be interchanged. But as a rule, one or other is clearly preferable.

The commonest meaning of to assure is ‘to attempt to convince’: I shall assure her of my loyalty. The past participle assured has come to function as an independent adjective: it can mean ‘self-confident’- a very assured young salesman– and ‘undoubted, guaranteed, certain’: an assured success. The two meanings are illustrated by the following examples:

As they took their seats in the salon, she sat near them, as if to gain some bravery, some confidence, from their utterly assured presence.

-Anita Brookner, Hotel du Lac

Ingrid worked at the Cs’ hardware outlet in Stradom Street… The rumour was that Schindler himself had got the girl appointed so that he would have an assured outlet for his kitchenware.

-Thomas Keneally Schindler’s Ark

In British English, in the world of personal finance, to assure yourself is to acquire financial protection for yourself or your dependants in anticipation of those personal misfortunes that are certain to happen-notably death.

In this context, to insure yourself, strictly speaking, is to acquire financial protection in anticipation of various misfortunes that may possibly happen- loss of property through fire or theft, medical expenses, loss of earnings through illness, and so on. However, to insure can be used as the all-embracing term, and is applied to assured policies as well. (So that a life insurance policy and a life assurance policy can amount to the same thing.) To insure is used in this general way very often in British English. Finally, to insure has a still wider sense of protecting against harm: measures to insure the village against famine.

The repercussions of this would be calamitous not only to the debtors and their creditors but to the world economy and world politics. Clearly, the first requirement of any sound policy must be to insure against this grave danger.

-Lord Lever, Time and Tide

Note the terms the insured and (in British English) the assured: they function as nouns in legal language, referring to the holder or holders of the insurance policy. (They remain unchanged in form, whether singular or plural in reference.)

To ensure, finally, means ‘to make certain, guarantee’: Please ensure that you leave the building by 5:30.

His economic policies were intended to ensure, he said, that Australia takes advantage of the rapidly growing economy of the region. It must be helped to do so through changes in education, job training, and in the labour force.

-Michael Davie, The Observer

In American English, the spelling insure would often be used in preference.


Author: Vrushali

I'm a under grad student on the path to become an accountant but that doesn't stop me from loving books, art and writing among many other things. I blog about all of them and all things that make life worth living. Check out my

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