Affect vs Effect – What is the Difference?

Affect vs Effect

Affect vs Effect

If you feel like every time you go to write affect (or is it effect?) you are just guessing at which vowel to start the word with, you are not alone. Affect and effect are popular words to mix up, and even more so when you don’t know the proper use and meaning of each word.

Here’s a crash course on the uses of affect vs effect to help you sort things out.

Use and Definition

Affect is primarily used as a verb, and it means to impact or change. As a verb, it is used as an action word: you are talking about the action that caused the impact or change.

Examples of affect:
“The cold weather began to affect my health.”
“The pay increase will greatly affect their lifestyle.”
“The storm affected their plans to go sailing for the weekend.”

Effect is primarily used as a noun, and is the result of the impact or change that occurred.

Examples of effect:
“Politicians have some effect on the lives of ordinary people.”
“Gentle music can have a soothing effect.”
“The weather effects of the storm made them cancel their sailing plans.”

Popular Phrases and When to Use

You can think of affect and effect as working together when it comes to helping you determine which one you should use. Most of the time, affect is used as a verb, which denotes having an influence on something, and effect is used as a noun to describe that which was influenced.

If you need a trick to help you remember: affect comes first alphabetically, and an action (to affect) has to occur before you can have a result (an effect).

Be Careful

While this concept generally works and is applicable in most situations, there is an exception – effect can be used as a verb to denote when something causes or produces something to come into being. This is often seen with government and politics, and the changes associated with them. For example: “The majority vote didn’t effect any change like the voters had expected,” whereby, the vote was unable to cause change to come into being.

While it may all seem slightly confusing at first, with a little practice, you will start to know which word choice is best for which situation. And when you get mixed up, remember Edgar Allen Poe and his RAVEN: Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun.

Did you know Sporcle is home to thousands of Language quizzes that anyone can play? Try a few for yourself by visiting the Language Quizzes page.



1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. Gray vs Grey - What is the Difference? | Sporcle Blog

Comments are closed.