Grammar Police: Affecting the Effect and Ensuring the Insurance

These are two pet peeves of mine.

First, affect is something you can do. 

I seek to affect the way we vote.

The effect is what happens.

The effect of my activities has been negligible.

Similarly misused are ensure and insure. The latter is something you do to mitigate the effects of some failure, such as buying a policy.

My house is insured against flooding.

The former is something that, like affect, you do.

I will ensure that the policy is paid on time.

People get this wrong a lot. I will insure that the policy is paid on time is a really strange way of saying you’ve bought a policy to make sure your policy is paid – which is a strange action, too.

  • Use affect almost as you would use alter. 
  • Use effect almost as you would use result. 
  • Use ensure almost as you would use make sure. 
  • Use insure when you bought a policy.


3 thoughts on “Grammar Police: Affecting the Effect and Ensuring the Insurance

  1. HoundTech

    We financially insure against storms that affect our infrastructure to ensure a desirous effect.
    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  2. Jim Christopher

    There are noun and verb forms of both words “effect” and “affect.” To “effect” a thing means to bring it about, to cause it. As in to “effect change”. One’s “affect” refers to their outward emotional disposition. As in having a “negative affect.” So, in a nutshell, it’s possible to effect an effect that affects one’s affect.

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