'Assure', 'ensure', 'insure' - Learners' Questions

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Learn the difference between the English vocabulary items 'assurance' and 'insurance'.

Watch the video and complete the activity here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/course/english-you-need/unit-29/session-5

Transcript

Hi guys! Dan for BBC Learning English here with this week's Learner Question. Find out what it is after this.

OK! This week's learner question comes from Betty from Hong Kong, who writes: Could you tell me the difference between assurance and insurance. I was told that we talk about life assurance but property insurance. However, I have also heard that American insurance companies talk about life insurance. Please help. Well Betty, I can assure you that we’ll give you the answer. Are you ready? Here we go.

Starting with the verbs. If you assure someone about something, then you tell them that it is definitely true or will happen, often in order to make them feel less worried. We often use such phrases as, I can assure you (that)… or let me assure you (that)… in order to emphasise the truth of what we’re saying. For example: Let me assure you that the children will be totally safe.

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. For example: Please ensure that you close and lock all doors and windows. In American English, ensure is often spelt with an ‘i’.

Insure has another meaning. If you insure yourself, or your property, then you pay money to an insurance company so that if you become ill, or if your property is stolen or damaged, that company will pay you money. For example: I always insure my phone against water damage and theft.

Now for the nouns. Assurance has the same meaning as assure. If you give someone an assurance that something will happen, you say that it is definitely true or will happen in order to make them feel less worried. For example: I gave her assurance that she would catch the flight.

In British English, we sometimes talk about life assurance as an alternative to life insurance. Insurance is the term used to describe all other types of insurance. For example: That car is not insured. The insurance expired last July.

Finally, please note that we cannot say ensurance. There is no noun which is derived from the verb ensure.

I hope that answers your question Betty. Thank you very much for writing to us. If anybody else out there has a question for Learners’ Questions, you can email us on: [email protected] Please remember to put Learners’ Questions in the subject box and your name and where you’re writing from. We get a lot of emails, guys, and I’m afraid that we can’t answer all of them, but we do read every single one. And for more information, go to our website, of course. bbclearningenglish.com. That’s it for this week’s Learners’ Questions. I’ll see you next time. Bye!
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