Roger Woodham replies:Assure, ensure, insure

assure - ensure - insure

If you assure someone that something is true or will happen, you tell them that it is definitely true or will happen, often in order to make them less worried. We often use such phrases as I can assure you or let me assure you in order to emphasise the truth of what we are saying:

Ensure is subtly different from assure and people often confuse the two. If you ensure that something happens, you make certain that it happens. A less formal equivalent of this verb in spoken English would be make sure:

In American English, ensure is sometimes spelt insure:

Insure has another meaning, as you suggest, Betty. If you insure yourself or your property, you pay money to an insurance company so that if you become ill or if your property is stolen or damaged, the company will pay you a sum of money:


First and foremost, assurance has the same meaning as assure. If you give someone an assurance that something is true or will happen, you say that it is definitely true or will definitely happen in order to make them feel less worried:

Secondly, in British English we sometimes talk about life assurance as an alternative to life insurance to describe the form of insurance in which a person makes regular payments to an insurance company in return for a sum of money which is paid to them after a period of time or to their family if they die. Both terms are freely used in British English:

Insurance is the term used to describe all other types of insurance:

Note that we cannot say ensurance. There is no noun which is derived from ensure.