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Example

Person A: The keys are not in the car. Do not bother looking there.

Person B: I just want to ensure.

It sounds slightly unnatural, but ‘ensure’ is replacing ‘make sure’, which is correct, so logically ensure should be correct too?

  • Sort of. What is Person B "ensuring"? That's the part that's missing. – Peter Dec 1 '16 at 4:26
  • @Peter Wait, does that mean ‘make sure’ is slightly incorrect too? – weeeeeee Dec 1 '16 at 4:34
  • No, "make sure" is correct, "I just want to make sure (the keys are not there). "Ensure" means you want to "make sure something happens", "make sure" means you want to verify the status of something: "You ensure success by making sure there are no problems". – Peter Dec 1 '16 at 4:45
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'ensure' - to make certain that (something) shall occur or be the case - needs a direct object in order to make sense. In other words, we need to state what the 'something' is.

'make sure' on the other hand, means to confirm, or establish that something is definitely so. And its usage implies that we've already established what the 'something' is, earlier in the conversation.

Person A: The keys are not in the car. Do not bother looking there.

Person B: I just want to make sure (that the keys are not in the car).

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