Safe, secure or sure?

Many students get confused when they have to translate "seguro".

It can be translated as safe, secure or sure, depending on the context.

Safe is the opposite of dangerous. It suggests that you are protected from harm or that there is no risk.
  • I don't feel safe when I walk along this street at night.
  • Madrid is one of the safest capital cities in Europe.
  • Don't lose these keys whatever you do. Keep them in a safe place.
  • I can safely say that we won't have to go to work next Friday.
  • These steps don't look safe. Be careful when you stand on them.
  • Have a safe journey. Give me a ring when you get there.
  • The government launched a new campaign promoting safe sex.
  • The airline maintained that the safety of passengers was their priority.

Secure describes a place which is protected - difficult to enter or exit.
  • Check that all the windows and doors are securely locked.
  • They say it's a secure site but I still don't like using my credit card on the internet.
  • Instead of a prison sentence, the man was sent to a secure mental hospital.
  • The security guards checked the bags of everyone entering the building.
  • How was the man able to get the weapon past supposedly tight airport security?

Secure also describes something that is fixed correctly and so is not likely to move or break.
  • Passengers should keep their seat belts securely fastened during the journey.
  • Are you sure the tent is secure? It looks as if it might blow away in the wind.

Something that is likely to continue and not fail or be lost is secure.
  • Many people prefer job security to job satisfaction.
  • The factory has just won a new contract so its future is relatively secure.

Sure means that there is no doubt.
  • I'm sure that I left my keys on the table.
  • Is there anything you are not sure about?
  • She's not sure whether she'll be able to come to the meeting.
  • Make sure that you lock the door when you leave.
  • He will be there for sure. He never misses a party.


Anonymous said…
Hi Graham,
I've read the post. It,s useful. Thanks
Montse said…
Hi, Graham. I've read this post. I am "sure" that Lucía arrived in NY "safe and sound"
Graham said…
Hi Hilde,

Welcome back! It's been a while since I saw you in the blog.

I remember you making mistakes with the use of sure.

I'm glad that the post helps.

Graham said…

First she'd have had to pass through tight airport security.

I remember when I went to New York. The woman at customs was scary and treated me like a criminal.