I came across a subtle usage of “ensure” in this context,

What is strangest about the case of China’s worst diplomat is that he was given this fateful mission at all. For he had bungled things before.When he managed a river, deadly flooding ensued. He was fired—then given another job. When he oversaw trade with foreigners in Tianjin, an important port, there was a horrific massacre of French clerics. He was fired again—and promptly sent to France as an imperial envoy.

My question is how to understand the exact meaning of "ensured" here in the context. "Ensure" means "make sure that something happens or is definite"(according to OALD).

The sentence then can be paraphrased as "when he managed a river, his management made sure that deadly flooding happened."

I am not sure if it means "whenever the man managed a river, it was bound to flood" or "the man had once managed a river, and a deadly flooding followed in defiance of his management".

How to understand the meaning of “ensure” in this context?What exactly is the author's idea indeed?

  • Where's the word "ensure" in the context?
    – Khan
    Nov 27, 2015 at 3:07
  • No, there's not. What a mistake I've made!
    – dennylv
    Nov 27, 2015 at 4:20

2 Answers 2


You are confusing two words:

  • ensure
  • ensue

Ensure means to make certain something will happen (ie. to make sure of it)

You must ensure that you put on your parachute before jumping out of the aircraft.

Ensue means something happens after something else.

After the two trucks collided on the freeway, chaos ensued.

In the case you quoted, after the diplomat managed a river, flooding ensued. He did not ensure the flooding (make certain of it), however the flooding followed his appointment, so one might conclude that he was not competent.

1.happen or occur afterward or as a result

Ensued is used properly within the context of your quoted text. Notice how Diplomat is modified by bungled and horrific. Notice the irony of a diplomat, responsible for a massacre of French clerics, being sent to France as the chief envoy.

Where ever he goes, trouble ensues.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .