This is part of the difference between series.

Having worked in a university for over 6 years, I’ve been exposed to a lot of academic writing. The only thing worse than academic writing is business writing. Considering I work in a faculty of management, I get to see the worst of both worlds. Apparently, there isn’t much in the way of grammar instruction in order to get a PhD.

Anyhow.

A common mistake I see in writing is the confusion of insure and ensure. For example:

Please insure everyone is invited to the meeting.

Never mind the wordiness and the passive voice, this sentence is saying something different from what was intended.

The speaker wants to make sure that everyone knows about an upcoming meeting. Unfortunately, using insure implies that the person to whom the command is given is to take out an insurance policy regarding the invitations.

Insure

Insure means to issue an insurance policy.

  • Before you move into your new house, you need to insure it.
  • You should insure yourself and your family against death and injury.

Ensure

Ensure, on the other hand, means to guarantee or make sure.

  • Please ensure everyone is invited to the meeting.
  • Ensure all dogs are kept on leash in city parks.

Some may disagree with this stance and claim the two terms are interchangeable, but I’m not willing to accept that quite yet. I am a proponent of clear, unambiguous sentences. By separating these two meanings, we encourage people to clearly say what they mean.

Let me know if you have any grammar questions, and I’ll be sure to post the question and answer here.

About Kim Siever

I am a copywriter and copyeditor. I blog on writing tips mostly, but I sometimes throw in my thoughts about running a small business. Follow me on Twitter at @hotpepper.

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