I'm editing something and I'm wondering if "assured" is the right term for this particular context:

“Sorry! Everything will be fine!” she assured him as she ran into the crowd.

In this scenario, the character being spoken to does not believe the character delivering this line. Am I overthinking this, or would something like "she said in an attempt to assure him" be more accurate?

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    It's not causative. It doesn't cause anything definite in the emotions of the addressee. What it does do is assert that everything will be fine, on the basis of whatever authority and correctness one should attribute to the speaker. If the speaker is The Boss, then Things Will Be Done. If not, then you have to trust the speaker; or not. – John Lawler Mar 21 at 20:36

The definition of the word "assure" does indeed suggest that removal of doubt in the listener is expected, but there's an important thing to remember: a speaker cannot control the level of doubt in the listener, only influence it. So we have some contexts to consider:

  • If the narrator is reliable and omniscient or if the listener is the narrator, Bob assuring Sally likely truly does mean that Bob's assurance has resolved Sally's doubt

  • If the narrator is not reliable, not omniscient, and not the narrator, Bob assuring Sally simply means that Bob is doing his best to resolve Sally's doubt; since the narrator can't read Sally's mind, there's no way to know if the assurance had the desired effect

So do understand that context matters for this word. Sometimes meaning must be interpreted according to the speaker's intentions, while other times it can be interpreted as truly having the implied or desired outcome.


The sentence is correct. To say that “she assured him” you are not required to know the outcome.

“She treated her husband for his backache.” Whether she helped him or not, the one and only fact here is that she treated him. The rest is TBA. One sentence at a time.

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