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So…what’s the difference between “insure” and “ensure”?  I got a request to cover this conundrum, so here we go.

It’s basically a matter of money. Yes, cold, hard cash does the trick here.

“Insure” means to protect against loss, most commonly by way of an insurance policy. Like this:

When Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos fled the Philippines in 1986, it was rumored that Imelda left behind over 1000 pairs of shoes, almost 900 purses and 71 pairs of sunglasses. Alas, Imelda had none of her possessions insured against this type of misfortune.

What a fashion setback! We don’t have to stick with personal possessions to insure something – although we normally think of health or vacation insurance, people have also insured themselves against alien abductions. Really.

Moving on, “ensure” lacks the direct monetary connection – it’s more of a guarantee. So if your grandma is expecting 20 for Thanksgiving dinner, she might make six pumpkin pies to ensure that she has enough for everyone.

Granny also might want to take out an insurance policy just in case those aliens show up for the big gig…