Grammar Wednesday!

More commonly confused words!

For Organic Mama: her pet peeve is the misuse of “insure,” “ensure,” and “assure.”

Ensure is a verb that means “to secure or guarantee.”

Having two pieces of silver will ensure your safe passage across the River Styxx.

Insure is also a verb, but it means “to guarantee against loss or harm.”

It is wise to insure your home for as much as you can afford; a fire or a hurricane can be devastating to your financial – and emotional – stability.

Assure – also…you guessed it…a verb – means “to declare or state with confidence.”

I assure you, I have no intention of EVER joining a Polar Bear Club.

While it’s difficult to tell whether someone is misusing one of these words in speech (unless you’re listening very carefully or the person is particularly careful in his or her enunciation), it is patently obvious in writing. I’m sorry, but I don’t have a trick to help with the remembering of which word is which; you’ll just have to learn them.

Ms. Kizz asked this question of me today:

“Afforded him WITH no good answers” or “Afforded him no good answers”. I believe it’s the latter but yet again my fanfic addiction has me doubting myself.

Given what I’ve seen of some of the fanfic she reads, she’s got no good reason to question her instincts – some of that stuff is the WORST writing I’ve EVER seen.

While I can’t find any stated rules about this question, my instincts go along with Kizz’s. Afford, in this context, means “to supply or furnish.” It is pretty well understood that one must be supplied or furnished WITH something, so the use of the word “with” is redundant. I say, leave it out – but I have no evidence to back me up on that, so you’re just going to have to take my word on it.

Happy Wednesday!



Filed under Grammar

8 responses to “Grammar Wednesday!

  1. I would either agree on the “with” question or say “no difference.” By definition, both should be okay.

  2. First a sentence that I made up with insure and ensure. Sure, it’s a little redundant but it might help with keeping them separate. “Bringing 2 pieces of silver as insurance when you cross the River Styxx will ensure your safe passage.”

  3. What’s a predicate?????

    Prof English’s first exam was today!!! EWWWW. That was a question on the test. Thankfully we didn’t have to define it, just identify one in a sample sentence.

    YAY for grammar!

  4. A “predicate” is just a fancy name for a verb or verb phrase.

    WOW! I should tell my kids, who were griping because I asked them to write two one-page papers between now and next Tuesday, that you’ve had a test already….

  5. Huh, I never knew what a predicate was, even though I’d heard it a lot. Thanks.

  6. Organic Mama

    I wish I could say that I didn’t have pet peeves when it comes to language and its consistent misuse, but for some reason when people write Insure when they mean Ensure, it sends me barking. Minutiae, no doubt, but it’s one of those things that makes me nuts.

    I live with a wonderful man, brilliant doctor, Ph.D, blah blah, who is indifferent to say the least about grammar and spelling conventions. While I suspect he leaves some real pearls in his work to test me when I am asked to “take a look” before he sends it, his haphazard use of apostrophes etc. makes me realize that despite my best efforts in the classroom, and despite the intelligence of some of the students, some kids will never care enough to get the rules down.

  7. WOW, Mama! Really? I didn’t know this about your beloved. I would have suspected, from how fastidious he is in so many other things, that he would be insistent about getting his grammar right.


  8. Organic Mama

    His vocabulary is exemplary, his thought processes and writing erudite and precise, but if there’s an apostrophe in there, he will misuse it. Seriously. Then he doesn’t much care if there is a problem with his capitalization or comma use or … I edit him and he edits me very well, but when it comes to mechanics and spelling, it’s me up at bat. Grr worthy, eh?

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