Words to Write By Part 4


In this installment of “Words to Write By,” I’ll review fiancé vs. fiancée, insure vs. ensure, alright vs. all right, and simultaneous vs. contemporaneous. This series is a quick reference to help explain the difference between commonly misused words. I’ve received suggestions from other writers and readers on words they’ve seen misused in earlier parts of this series, and you will see some of those appear with their names to acknowledge their contribution to the list.

Fiancé vs. fiancée: I believe this one gets overlooked, because people don’t know there are two words to describe a person who is engaged to be married, but one is masculine and the other is feminine. Fiancé is a man who is engaged to be married, while fiancée is a woman who is engaged to be married. His fiancée’s ring is stuck in the drain. The feminine word is used here, because it is referring to the woman.

Insure vs. ensure: Think of it this way, insure is like insurance. It refers to something that has coverage or protection. The roof was insured, so we only had to meet the deductible. Ensure, on the other hand, means to make certain that something happens or is provided. Ellie asked me to ensure your room has everything you need for your stay.

Alright vs. all right: This is a simple one once you know that only one of these is correct. Although we often smush the words all and right together to sound like alright, the correct way to write this is all right. All right, you may now be seated.

Simultaneous vs. contemporaneous: These two may be trickier, so hopefully I can explain the difference. Simultaneous refers to when two or more things occur at the same time. Think even more specifically as happening at the same moment. In order to activate the self-destruct, the two keys must be turned simultaneously. Contemporaneous means to occur or exist within the same time period. Contemporaneous to having our roof shingles replaced, we had the siding of our house redone, and put in new windows.


Look for future installments of “Words to Write By.” You can find links to the rest of the series below.

Part 1: Peak vs. peek vs. pique, further vs. farther, blonde vs. blond, and gray vs. grey.

Part 2: Alleged, hung vs. hanged, a vs. the, and bring vs. take.

Part3: Who’s vs. whose, whet vs. wet, compliment vs. complement, fazed vs. phased.


As always, feel free to tell me about any words that you’ve come across that get misused. If I use your suggestion in a future post, I’ll include your name and a link to your blog (if you have one) to acknowledge your contribution to the list.

Otherwise, there are several of you who follow every week, so this week I’d like to hear some of your favorite words.


  1. // Reply

    Fiancé vs. fiancée! I used to mix this up a lot when I started writing and discovering new words. I am liking this series, Mandie. Keep it up.

    1. // Reply

      Thanks, EM! I was editing an old manuscript last week, and I came across a part where I used the wrong one. I guess that’s the whole point of editing, to catch things like this.

      1. // Reply

        Most welcome, Mandie. Yes, I agree, for that is why I edit. 🙂

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