Suggest improvements for the highlighted problem area:
After a difficult bout with asthma, Katokwe went to her doctor. The prognosis omitted any reference to medication: only rest was proscribed. Her esteemed doctor ensured her that if she relaxed for a while, her condition would improve. Even her weekend trips as a balloonist had to be curtailed.
She decided to lounge on the shore next to a waterfall and read a magazine. But before Katokwe could even peruse it for an interesting article, her magazine was sopping wet from the mist. So instead of reading, she napped peacefully next to the murmurring river.
- Ensure versus Insure versus Assure -
The third sentence of our opening paragraph uses a word that doesn't quite fit:
Her esteemed doctor ensured her that if she relaxed for a while, her condition would improve.
The word ensure is closely related to insure and assure, as is shown by the definitions:
insure: to make sure, to guarantee financial payment in the event of loss
assure: to make sure, to convince or put someone at ease about something
Because all three words mean to make sure, they are admittedly interchangeable. However, we advise writers to always use the word that fits best. When the meaning involves an insurance agreement, the word insure is preferred:
Before going to the doctor, Katokwe verified that she was insured.
When the meaning has the added concept of making someone feel more secure, the word assure is preferred:
Katokwe's subordinates at work assured her that the office would run smoothly while she took the afternoon off.
And when we simply mean to make sure, the word ensure is preferred:
To ensure that she had a relaxing afternoon at the waterfall, Katokwe checked the weather, dressed appropriately, and left her pager at home.
Because our doctor was trying to convince Katokwe that relaxation would improve her condition, we should use the word assure:
Her esteemed doctor assured her that if she relaxed for a while, her condition would improve.