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Ensure, Insure, Assure – Common Mistakes in English as a Second Language (ESL)

Updated on September 30, 2012
Ensure, insure, assure - what's the difference?
Ensure, insure, assure - what's the difference? | Source

Ensure, insure, and assure are three words that confuse not just the learners of English as a Second Language but also native English speakers themselves.

All these three words have something to do with “certainty” or the “act of making sure.”

They also have similar pronunciations and even spellings.

They are downright confusing indeed.

Still, ensure, insure, and assure have differences in meanings.

Thus, they ought to be used differently in English sentences.

Below is a guide on using ensure, insure and assure as well as some sample sentences to explain their usage.

When to Use Ensure

We use ensure in the following cases:

  • When we need a transitive verb in a sentence, then we can use ensure. A transitive verb requires a direct object in a sentence.
  • As a transitive verb, ensure means to “guarantee.”
  • It can also mean to “make certain.”
  • It some cases, it can mean to “keep safe.”

Note that ensure is always followed by a direct object in a sentence.

A direct object is a noun or a pronoun that receives the action of a transitive verb in a sentence. In this case, the transitive verb is ensure.

A direct object simply answers the questions “What?” or “Whom?” In this case, “Ensure what?” or “Ensure whom?”

Examples of Ensure in Sentences

  1. Their father’s fortune ensured their wealthy living.
  2. Their billionaire father ensured them a fabulous lifestyle.
  3. Their father ensures their safety and privacy.

When to Use Insure

We use insure in the following cases:

  • When we need a synonym for ensure, then we can use insure. Insure can have similar meanings as ensure.
  • However, insure is still different from ensure because it can refer to the act of getting “safety coverage against specific loss/es” or “insurance.”

Examples of Insure in Sentences

  1. Their mother insured their lives for $1 billion.
  2. Their properties are insured from all kinds of disasters.

When to Use Assure

We use assure in the following circumstances:

  • When we need a synonym for insure, then we can use assure. In British English, assurance is oftentimes used to refer to insurance.
  • When we need a verb in a sentence, then we can use assure.
  • As a verb, assure means to “declare with confidence.”
  • It can also mean to “comfort” or “cheer up.”
  • It can mean to “promise” or “secure.”

Examples of Assure in Sentences

  1. The broker assured her that she will get the best real estate in Los Angeles.
  2. He assured her that the $100 million she paid for the mansion was just appropriate.
  3. She was assured of the best selling price.

Mini Test on Ensure, Insure and Assure

  1. He _____ her of a happy life.
  2. To _____ their properties, he took out several forms of coverage.
  3. He had to _____ that all their properties are covered by assurance.
  4. She was _____ of a comfortable travel.
  5. They _____ her safe journey.

Mini Test Answers

  1. assures/assured
  2. insure
  3. ensure
  4. assured or ensured
  5. assures/assured or ensures/ensured

Copyright © 2012 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

Ensure, Insure, and Assure: Explained


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    • spartucusjones profile image

      CJ Baker 5 years ago from Parts Unknown

      Very useful and informative. I'm sure it will be helpful for those who speak English as a second language (and maybe even some of us who are trying to speak it as a first).

    • klyaksa profile image

      klyaksa 5 years ago

      This is very interesting. Especially for people whose English is not their first language.

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 5 years ago from Olney

      Good hub....very useful for ESL students.

    • kennynext profile image

      kennynext 5 years ago from Everywhere

      Great ideas and should be implemented in a lot of English classes in the US. With many words here having multiple meanings, no wonder it is so confusing to learn

    • libby1970 profile image

      libby1970 5 years ago from KY

      Good Hub for those who aren't sure of the three words! Very useful! Voting up!