There’s a large overlap between ‘insure’ and ‘ensure’ when it comes to their definitions, and many people find it hard to differentiate the two. When you get down to it though, there is an easy way of separating the two.
Let’s take ‘insure’ first. This term has come to mean protecting something in a monetary sense, against damage or theft. You’ll most likely hear it when discussing policies or compensation. For example, it can be used in the following ways:
- ‘I’m going to insure my new car with this company, as their prices are good.’
- ‘He didn’t think to insure his home until there was a leak in his roof.’
‘Ensure’, on the other hand, is used in a much more general sense. It’s used to show the reader that something is being done, or is happening. Here’s how it could be used in a sentence:
- ‘The system is set up to ensure everyone gets a good service.’
- ‘I will ensure that it gets to you on time.’
As well as this, there’s some confusion about where ‘assure’ fits into this. ‘Assure’ is usually used in conversation, to help someone understand that everything is ok. For example:
- ‘I assure you that it’s all under control.’
- ‘Rest assured, the event will run on time.’
In American English, ‘ensure’ and ‘insure’ can often be used interchangeably. In other regions though, they are kept much more separate. Some writers feel that they basically mean the same thing, but as you can see there is a subtle difference.