Answer to English Grammar Question 6908

I'm never sure which word is the correct term - 1) Using the services of my company ENSURES the task is completed correctly, on time & on budget! OR 2) Using the services of my company INSURES the task is completed correctly, on time & on budget! Also please explain how I can make this determination on my own in the future. Kindly Irene

From member: Irene YORK in Canada

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Insure and EnsureHi Irene and thanks for your question as this seems to be a set of those easily confused words that we have not included in our list on the English4Today Grammar Pages. We'll make sure it is there soon though as assure, insure,ensure are, as you've pointed out, a group of words that we often confuse. To assure something is to make certain that it will happen or has happened or to promise that something will be done as said:

To ensure something is to take steps to make sure that something happens:

To insure something is to take precautions against something undesirable happening and, of course, is best remembered when you think of an 'insurance policy':

Now for the complications! Ensure and insure are often used interchangeably to mean 'to make sure of something'. Practically, this means that as long as the meaning is 'making sure of something' you can get away with using either one. Which means, of course, that both of your sentences would be correct. However, there are people who will insist upon using only ensure in this sense, using insure for talking about legal and financial protection and if you decided to follow this (rather small!) group then only your first sentence would be correct. Insure is always used when referring to matters of legal and financial protection (e.g., insurance) : "

In terms of remembering all of this, Irene, I don't know of any handy memory trick or mnemonic for this group but what I will do is put together an exercise for you over the next few days and post it to the members' web with the link to it here so that you can do that a few times to reinforce your understanding of the words.

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