Ask Me a Question

If you have a writing, grammar, style or punctuation question, send an e-mail message to curiouscase at sign hotmail dot com.

Add Your Own Criminal Sentence!

If you find a particularly terrible sentence somewhere, post it for all to see (go here and put it in the Comments section).

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Criminal Sentence 30: Insure or Ensure?

From an ad for financial services:

"Lock in your appointment now to insure these special rates"

The word "insure" is usually used to refer to insurance:

I would like to insure my car, please.

When you're saying that you want to be sure about something, you use "ensure":

Please ensure you lock the door before you leave.

Now, if you use "ensure" instead of "insure" in the criminal sentence, it still sounds odd, so let's improve it:

Lock in your appointment now to ensure you receive these special rates.


Anonymous said...

I regularly see these two words used interchangeably (except when "insure" is relating directly to "insurance"). I was taught as you described in this post. Is it possible that the rules have changed since I was in high school (1990)? Even states that they are interchangeable. Has it always been this way? Thanks.

The Sentence Sleuth said...

Hi, Anonymous. I don't think the rules have changed. You're right, though, that some sources consider these words interchangeable. I, however, prefer "insure" for insurance only. I guess it's not wrong to say, "Please insure that you wear your seatbelt," but to me, "ensure" works so much better there.