Affect vs. Effect: When to Use Each

Sometimes, the English language is really silly. There are a lot of words that sound the same but are spelled differently and used differently, for virtually no reason. The words “affect” and “effect” are a classic example of two words that simply do not need to be this confusing.

Luckily, I have sat through enough boring grammar classes to understand the difference and hopefully I can help sort it out a little. Let’s dive right in, shall wee?

Affect:

In general, the word affect is used as a verb. A good way to remember this is that affect is an action. If you’re talking about something that someone does, it’s affect.

Example: The book really affected Sally’s opinion; she had never thought about parenting in that way before.

Because the book is acting upon Sally, we are using the word as an action so we say affect.

Effect:

In contrast, effect is used as a noun. The effect of something is the end-result. If you’re talking about an end product or situation, you’re going to want to use effect.

Example: The trial had a negative effect on the small town.

Because the negative feelings are the end product, we are using effect.

Sound good? Great! Because it’s about to get a little bit more complicated.

But wait! There’s more!

Another common usage of the word affect is completely unrelated to the whole affect/effect mess. The word has a completely different meaning. Here, affect is a noun and is used to mean a person’s general mood or demeanor. In this case, affect means a person’s attitude.

Example: Bill was always smiling and laughing; his positive affect put people at ease.

Because Bill has a positive presence or attitude, we’re going to use affect.

Resources:

I know that that was pretty complicated, so I’ve made a list of some resources that may be helpful for you in the future.

First, I have made this handy chart. Hopefully, you find it helpful.

Noun

Effect End-result Her words had the intended effect.
Affect Attitude The scar left him with a frightening affect.

Verb

Affect Action The painting profoundly affected his feelings.

Next, here are some links of people who probably did a whole lot better at explaining this than I did. Good luck!

3 thoughts on “Affect vs. Effect: When to Use Each

  1. But wait! There’s more!

    Effect can also be used as a noun to mean someone’s personal items e.g. personal effects.

    Another use for effect is as a verb meaning to “put in place” e.g. Their lawyer will effect an contract between the two parties.

    Saqib

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *