In this feature article the use of boronic acids to monitor, identify and isolate analytes within physiological, environmental and industrial scenarios is discussed. Boronic acids recognise diol motifs through boronic ester formation and interact with anions generating boronates, as such they have been exploited in sensing and separation protocols for diol appended molecules such as saccharides and anions alike. Therefore robust molecular sensors with the capacity to detect chosen molecules selectively and signal their presence continues to attract substantial attention, and boronic acids have been exploited with some success to monitor the presence of various analytes. Reversible boronic acid-diol interactions have also been exploited in boron affinity chromatography realising new separation domains through the same binding events. Boronic acid diol and anion interactions pertaining to sensing and separation are surveyed.