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The Grammar Guru

Josh's dad once told him: "You can only avoid failing by always playing it safe."

Over time, therefore, Josh tried sky diving, hiking across the Sahara and scaling Mount Everest. What's more, he took his chances in Las Vegas, where, surprisingly, he won $7 million. Even after taxes, he was set for life, so he bought a fancy mansion and fancy things to go with it.

Then he hired some help and spent his days watching TV. One afternoon, while he was absorbed in "Life Hurts," his favorite soap opera, his butler announced that there was a young man at the door who had to talk to Josh. Since Josh was getting bored (everybody died on "Life Hurts"), he let the young man in.

"Thank you for seeing me, sir," he said. "This is my first sales job and my first time out on it, ha ha!" The young man's voice was shaking, along with his hands, and Josh took his arm. "Take your time. I'm listening."

Somehow, the young man got through his shpiel, ending with, "So you see, sir, it would be wise for you to insure your wonderful belongings with my company, which would ensure that you got paid if anything happened to your treasures."

"Well," said Josh, I've never felt the need to buy insurance. My house is swamped with alarms that ensure I'll be promptly notified if anyone tries to break in."

A tear traveled down the young man's cheek. "However," Josh went on, "you've made me realize how foolish I've been, and I will be happy to insure my possessions with your company, to ensure their protection." The young man thanked Josh energetically. Back in his car, he phoned his secretary. "Leila, you were right," he said, wiping his eyes. "Tears work wonders."

Remember: insure -- protect with insurance; ensure -- guarantee.



1) There was no way that King Frank could (insure/ensure) that his daughter would get married, unless he gave her a huge dowry.

2) "That's a lovely pair of earrings," said the woman standing beside Jean in the bus. "If the diamonds are real, you should have them (ensured/insured)."

3) "It's impossible to (insure/ensure) a happy marriage," Henry the VIII told the first of his six wives.



1) ensure (King Frank's daughter was moody, selfish, impatient and quarrelsome, and she constantly bit her nails.)

2) insured (Jean wondered whether she should admit the diamonds were fake. In the end, she just smacked the woman and got off the bus.)

3) ensure (The wife thought, "Money helps.")

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