How well you use the tools of language can have a subtle yet crucial impact on your authority status, especially among those who value the effective expression of ideas.

TRUE CONFESSION: It is my firm belief that good grammar is good business; and that bad grammar detracts from your authority and expert status.

However, it is not only bad grammar that can trip us up. Incorrect word usage can have the same deleterious effect on our reputation.

One word that is often misused is the word insure. People often confuse it with the word ensure, and use the former word when the meaning of the latter word is intended.

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word insure as: to secure the payment of a sum of money in the event of loss or damage.

In other words, you buy insurance in order to insure your home or your car, etc.

The meaning most people attribute to insure is actually the meaning of ensure, which is to make certain or make safe.

We wear seat belts when driving or on a plane to ensure our safety. We learn new things and plan ahead to ensure a positive outcome.

We listen carefully to ensure that we can properly understand what is being said and to be able to respond appropriately.

An easy trick for deciding whether to use insure or ensure is to remember that you buy insurance to insure things. If you are not doing that, chances are that ensure is the word and the spelling that conveys what you actually mean to say.

Do you think that the trick I just suggested for deciding which of these two very similar words to use will help you to ensure that you are using them correctly?