Monday, October 13, 2008

Pedantry: assure, ensure, insure

My (beloved) local (print!) newspaper publishes today (10/13) an article (also available online at http://www.mercurynews.com/ci_10711901?IADID=Search-www.mercurynews.com-www.mercurynews.com) claiming that (my emphasis) "To assure continued fiscal security, Kane thinks local officials need to build stronger relationships with state representatives.". Isn't the added value of print newspapers vs blogs supposed to be good copy-editing?! And yet, here they are at least as bad as any unedited blog could possibly be. I'm crying.

A concise explanation can be found e.g. at http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/assure.html : "To “assure” a person of something is to make him or her confident of it. According to Associated Press style, to “ensure” that something happens is to make certain that it does, and to “insure” is to issue an insurance policy.". I can understand hesitation between "ensure" and "insure" (AP has it right, but not everybody agrees on that), but to misuse "assure" as if it meant "ensure", as the quoted newspaper article just did, is simply unforgivable.

1 comment:

CharlesMerriam said...

Ah, but in this particular case, the economy runs on shared belief. You cannot insure it will work: the country would go broke. You cannot ensure it will work: the brightest minds are already trying to screw it up. Assurance is the best you can hope for. :)