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Assure, Ensure, or Insure – Grammar hints

I am often asked what sites I would recommend for online grammar guides. There is the standard Strunk’s Elements of Style. Another site to check is the Guide to Grammar and Style by Professor Jack Lynch. Professor Lynch is an associate professor at Rutgers. His guide is easy to read and provides detailed explanations. The site supports a basic search engine and an alphabetical listing of topics.

As an example, the guide’s entry for “assure, ensure, or insure” reads:

While ensure and insure aren't quite so clear cut, assure is very different from both. You assure a person that things will go right by making him confident. Never use assure in the sense of "Assure that the wording is correct"; you can only assure somebody that it's correct.

Ensure and insure are sometimes used interchangeably, but it may be better to keep them separate. Insuring is the business of an insurance company, i.e., setting aside resources in case of a loss. Ensure means make sure, as in "Ensure that this is done by Monday."

2 comments

  1. Forget all the online guides, especially Elements of Style. Go to a used bookstore and purchase the 1965 Second Edition of H.W. Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage.

  2. I agree about skipping the Elements of Style — Check out Words into Type. Most useful, extensive, and practical grammar guide I”ve ever used.

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