FWD: RE: Re: Grammar Question: Ensure or Make

Subject: FWD: RE: Re: Grammar Question: Ensure or Make
From: wburns -at- MICRON -dot- COM
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 15:22:28 MST

Here's another tha didn't make it. I won't cross my fingers this time. ;-)

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000

---------- Start of forwarded message ----------

Message# 432550
27-OCT-1995 12:27:45.00
From: WBURNS (BILL_EXT.5057) (VAX17)
To: TECHWR-L -at- VM1 -dot- ucc -dot- okstate -dot- edu
Subj: RE: Re: Grammar Question: Ensure or Make (#428483)

Joe Williams writes:

"Make sure" is idiomatic, but in this context I would prefer it to the
more formal "ensure." It is my understanding that human's don't
generally ensure--processes or agents ensure on behalf of humans.
("The seat belt ensured that I would not fly through the windshield.")
You might consider "make certain" if "make sure" is too informal.

Although I agree that "make sure" is idiomatic to a degree, this distinction
about ensure is inaccurate to my knowledge. Perhaps this usage is being
confused with the distinction between "ensure" and "assure"? Ensure is used
with nonanimate objects or relative clauses that are the focus or intent of
the action. Assure is used with human objects that are the beneficiary or
recipient of the action. In either case, the subject may or may not be human.
The focus is on the effect on the object and the object's status as a human

Some idioms (we've had this discussion before) are more basic than others and,
hence, less likely to cause confusion than more formal vocabulary. As someone
noted (Howard, I believe), "ensure" is a $5.00 word for a $.02 idea. While I
don't generally restrict myself to the most basic levels of vocabulary in my
academic writing, I tend to do so in my technical writing (but, then, I write
for manufacturing production workers, not academics or scientists).

Bill Burns *
Assm. Technical Writer/Editor * LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most
Micron Technology, Inc. * precious possessions.
Boise, ID *
WBURNS -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM * Ambrose Bierce

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