Difference Between Ensure VS Make Sure [2024]

There are times when you are ready to wrap up all the tasks of your day and relax for a little while, but then you’re suddenly struck by a thought.

“Did I use the correct idiom or verb in that email?”, you’d ask yourself, racking your brain. In some cases, the verb and idiom in question are none other than ensure and make sure.

With the English language being filled with homonyms and words that might look closely related, it might be quite a hassle to compose an email or any sorts of writing that would need the utmost attention to details when you are stuck trying to make a decision about ensure vs make sure.

All that being said, you don’t have to worry about a single thing as we have decided to take it upon ourselves and help you end this seemingly endless battle all about ensure vs make sure in your head. Before we get into any of the details, let’s go over what each of them mean.

What Does “Make Sure” Mean?

For starters, you might like to know that compared to ensure, make sure is an idiom. The past and present participle forms of this idiom are made sure and making sure. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition of make sure is to find out or do something to make one certain about whether something is correct, will happen, to clear all doubts about it, etc.

Example Sentences

● Eddie had to make sure he was all alone before he conducted his evil experiment.
● Even though manufacturers make sure the batteries of electric cars are well protected, the risk of battery fire still remains as a likely possibility.
● Make sure you follow the instructions word by word or else all will be doomed.


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What Does “Ensure” Mean?

Next we have the word ensure. As mentioned previously, ensure and make sure do not fall under the same category; in fact, ensure is a transitive verb which is a verb that uses a direct object to gain meaning rather than on its own. For those of you wondering, the past and present participle forms of the verb ensure are ensured and ensuring. The definition given to ensure based on the Merriam Webster dictionary is to make sure, guarantee, make safe or certain.

Example Sentences

● Only by checking the doors and windows multiple times Sarah was able to ensure the safety of her home.
● The new law ensured equality between the male and female students
● Danny ensured his mom would never in a million years find out about all the chocolates he had eaten out of her sight.


Some of the recorded synonyms for ensure are as follows:
● Assure
● Guarantee
● Ice
● Secure
● Insure
● Guaranty
● Cinch
● Clinch

A Guid to Choose the Right Synonym for ensure

When writing your own essay, article or any other types of academic or non-academic writing, you might need to use certain words such as ensure more than a few couple of times. Knowing the right synonym to use instead of repeating the exact same words can help your audience read till the end and not become bored.

In general, ensure, insure, assure secure all mean to make something or someone sure. Ensure, insure and assure are usually used interchangeably in various contexts that the author was intending to indicate the making certain or even inevitable of an outcome. That being said, each of these synonyms tend to have slight differences.

When using ensure, you could be implying a virtual guarantee
● His impeccable style ensured his popularity amongst his peers.
, While using assure simply implies the removal of one’s doubt and suspense about something
● I assured Dave that he wouldn’t feel an ounce of regret cutting ties with his toxic friends.
, And finally, the word insure sometimes may stress on taking the necessary measures beforehand to make certain of the desired outcome.
● Mary knew the charcuterie and the buffet would insure the success of her evening gathering of mothers.
We will get further into the differences between ensure, insure and assure later on.

Secure has a more distinct use compared to the other two synonyms. It implies action taken to keep something safe and guard them against loss or attack.
● Joey took all measures to secure a place for himself on the team.


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Word History



The verb ensure comes from Middle English ensuren, from Anglo-Norman (French) ensurer, alteration of assurer.

First Known Use

The first known use of the word ensure was in 1660.

The Actual Difference of Ensure VS Make Sure

In definition, make sure is closely related to ensure and one wouldn’t be able to find any difference at all that would help settle the argument of ensure vs make sure once and for all. The real difference is seen in the connotation and how each of these would be used in sentences.

For instance, imagine a scenario in which you have to submit an official letter or you are trying to email professors from a prospective university you wish to attend. Being fully aware of the importance of these situations, you know you have to come across as a professional and your writings must be more formal.

Even though the whole argument over ensure vs make sure isn’t about their definitions and you’d be making sense using either of them, you wouldn’t want to use make sure in the described situations.

Both ensure and make sure are used to convey a sense of certainty and how someone should take action in order to guarantee something. The real difference that helps you choose your final answer in the battle of ensure vs make sure is in the formality of each of these.

Ensure is more formal and it’s appropriate to be used in writing or during any other form of formal communication. Make sure, on the other hand, is often used during day-to-day conversations and therefore it’s a more casual option.

You wouldn’t want to use “make sure’ with anyone of a higher rank, social standing or anyone you’re not quite acquainted with.

Ensure VS Make Sure: the Subtle Key Differences That Help Select the Appropriate Term

As mentioned previously, even though ensure and make sure are often used interchangeably and seem to have the same definitions, there are subtle key differences you might like to be on the lookout for when using each of them.

1. Formality

When writing, especially official documents, the formality of the text is one of the important factors an author should consider. Ensure is considered to be more formal and is seen to be used commonly in professional, academic or written contexts.

Some of the appropriate situations one can use ensure are when writing official documents, making reports or academic writing.

Make sure, despite having a similar definition, is considerably less formal and therefore often used in everyday spoken language or texting.

2. Agency and Responsibility

When conveying the sense of responsibility and to what extent something must be made certain, using ensure vs make sure becomes tricky.

Ensure implies taking deliberate actions and measures in guaranteeing a specific outcome. Considering the high level of responsibility this word suggests, ensure happens to convey a greater sense of control over the outcome of the actions in question.

Meanwhile, make sure puts emphasis on individual responsibility and seems to focus more on the personal efforts of one person over a greater group or one with more power.

3. External Factors

When one wants to express a sense of certainty or the actions one took to secure a possible outcome, external factors must be considered.

The transitive verb ensure, often involves external factors or conditions and a sense that the subject had to meet to secure the desired result. Using ensure can highlight the necessary actions taken to meet the requirements to make something certain.

On the other hand, make sure, as mentioned previously, focuses on personal verification and effort in double-checking without the need or indicating any external factors.

4. Confidence and Intention

The confidence in the certainty of an outcome or something being the truth is also hugely impacted and can be indicated using the right words or idioms.

Ensure usually expresses a stronger sense of confidence or intention in achieving the satisfactory outcome. This stronger sense of confidence conveys a proactive approach to ensuring the success of the desired result and avoiding all chances of failure.

In contrast, make sure implies a more cautious or careful approach and a need for personal vigilance and attention to detail when securing the intended outcome.

You should note that these distinctions are very subtle and in the modern world not many may notice or even care about them.

In many cases, ensure and make sure can simply be used interchangeably without affecting the context much. The choice between ensure vs make sure is completely depends on your personal preference, the formality of your text and the desired tone of communication.


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Choosing the Right Phrase: Ensure VS Make Sure in Academic Writing

During our years of studying whether in high school, college or even university, there have been times when we had to sit down and write an academic piece. Often than not, choosing the correct words and idioms have been one of the biggest struggles in the process of creating an academic piece.

Like every other form of writing, the choice between ensure vs make sure depends on various factors such as the desired level of formality and the context. Here are a few tips and factors you should be considering the next time you wanted to compose an academic piece of writing:

1. Formality

As you might be aware, academic writing holds a stronger sense of formality and therefore, ensure is commonly used and preferred over make sure in case of writing academic pieces.

Ensure aligns well with the formal tone and seems to fit the typical precision expected to be found in academic writing.

2. Clarity and Precision

When one has to write a report or a piece of academic writing on the steps of a process a sense of responsibility and greater certainty must be conveyed to the audience.

Ensure is a great word to be used particularly when one is discussing protocols, processes and the specific steps taken to ensure an outcome or result in academic research. This word fully portrays that sense of responsibility and deliberate measures taken to guarantee the outcome.

3. Citations and References

It’s not uncommon to add references and citations when writing an academic piece especially when it’s an academic research paper such as a thesis.

When the author is intending to emphasize on the accuracy and reliability of the information that they have cited or referenced in their writing, ensure can be particularly useful.

For example, “After cross-referencing multiple sources, the research assistant ensures the research of the validity of the gathered data.”

4. Recommendations or Guidelines

When reading academic writings such as research papers, one would find themselves faced with recommendations on further studies into the subject. Authors of academic writings try to provide all the needed additional information their audience might need to fully understand the concept of their writing.

Ensure is commonly used to accompany the possible recommendations and guidelines an author may provide instead of make sure. Ensure successfully conveys a stronger sense of necessity and stresses the importance of following specific guidelines, requirements or steps.

Although make sure and ensure seem to convey the same meaning, it is important to pay close attention to expectations of the academic disciplines when composing a piece of writing.

While make sure can still be used in academic writing without affecting the end result hugely, it is generally considered less formal and therefore used cautiously. It may be appropriate to use in certain contexts, such as direct quotations or when including an informal discussion within the text. Nonetheless, the author must pay careful attention so that using make sure would align with the overall tone and specific expectations of academic writings.

Ultimately, referring to the guidelines or style manual provided by the institution or publication is advised. Following the provided format would ensure consistency and help your academic writing fit right into place.

Words to Use Interchangeably With Ensure or Make Sure

Now that you might have an idea how to settle for one option between ensure vs make sure, you may like to know of words you can use instead of both ensure and make sure.

There exists several words that can be used interchangeably with ensure or Make sure in order to convey a similar meaning. Some of them are as follows:
● Guarantee
● Certify
● Double-check
● Secure
● Insure ( in certain contexts not all)
● Assure
● See to it
● Verify
● Confirm

The mentioned words all can be used to express the idea of taking measures to ensure and guarantee that a certain outcome will happen or something is true.

That being said, it’s important to note that each of these words may vary slightly in definition and the appropriate connotations or usage patterns might not fully match every situation. Taking context into consideration is always a good idea in order to choose the right word that best fits the intended meaning and tone.


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Bonus: a Quick Look into Ensure vs. Insure vs. Assure

Ensure, insure and assure are a group of words that baffle many when it comes to writing and most of the readers also confuse these three words. However, there’s nothing to worry about as these words are in fact interchangeably under many circumstances.

It is worth noting that the subject of ensure vs insure vs assure is one of the many areas of English language where what is correct is not really defined. For much of the history of the English language, insure and ensure were simply spelling variants and were no different from theater and theatre.

Fast forward to the middle of the 19th century, some folks began finding fault with this and decided to assign distinctive definitions to ensure, insure and assure.

Later on, many usage guides were provided suggesting the use of insure must be restricted to financial matters and employ the word ensure to general use when one intends to convey taking actions in order to make sure, certain or safe.

The things we usually insure tend to hold some sort of remunerable value. Some of these things are cars, homes, ourselves and in general anything that reparations for them can be made by money.

In contrast, ensure is used to express a sense of certainty, accountability and control over outcomes.

Assure is completely distinguished from the other two as this word conveys the specific meaning of removing doubt from one’s mind.

Nowadays we don’t seem to have much trouble assigning each of these words to their accepted uses. If you still feel uncomfortable when you have to assure your friend that their resume will ensure they will get the job leaving them insured, you should chill. Getting ensure, insure and assure mixed up is hardly a mortal sin and every English enthusiast can surely turn a blind eye.

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Hi there, welcome to my website! I’m Omid and now you are reading the text of a passionate teacher. I’ve been teaching the English language for about 12 years while applying different updated methods of teaching. It’s my absolute pleasure that you are visiting my website. Here we go with the hope of improving your English language capabilities using various methods. Let’s learn English together here.