Ensure or Make sure?

Subject: Ensure or Make sure?
From: Mary Moore 1569 <mmoore -at- CHIPCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 10 Jul 1995 12:46:00 PDT

I recently started working for a company that tends to use "Ensure..." in
their manuals instead of "Make sure..." (For example, "Ensure the
connections are tight" instead of "Make sure the connections are tight.")
I've always heard that "Make sure" is better because it's common English.
However, I have also heard that Latinate words (like ensure) are better for
global audiences because people for whom English is not their first language
will be able to guess the meaning of the word if they encounter it in a
document that is not translated. (Personally I can hear the translation of
"ensure" into the French when I read it, but I know that if I translated
"make sure" word-for-word in French, I wouldn't end up with the right

Obviously, I'll use whatever the department standard is, but I'm just
curious: Do you use "ensure" or "make sure"? Why? "Ensure" sounds stuffy
and old-fashioned to me, but if the trend is towards using it, I would like
to know. You can send replies directly to me and I'll post a summary to the

Mary M. Moore
mmoore -at- chipcom -dot- com

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