Affect vs Effect


Which one of these sentences is correct?

  • Melting of the snow AFFECTED climate change.
  • Melting of the snow has an EFFECT on climate change.

We won't tease you. The majority agree both of them must be correct from the grammatical standpoint.

When we are giving these examples, the choice of the word seems so evident to you, doesn't it? But one day, you might face a dilemma: when should you use one of these two words in a context?

The example sentences show that effect and affect seem to convey relatively close meanings. How do you choose then? The ambiguity might be caused by the fact that many people pronounce them almost in the same way. Yes, these words are tricky. And when you need to spell them, that is where the fun begins.

This is why we have worked out writing tips on the usage of affect vs effect. We will show you how these commonly confused words could be distinguished easily with a couple of tricks. So get a piece of paper or open a notepad to make some notes.

What's the difference?

Affect is a verb meaning the act, while the other word is a noun meaning result.

To illustrate the difference between these commonly used words more clearly, here is an example.

Bob and Mike are two kids playing in a sandbox. They are making sandcastles—Bob ruins (affects the castle in this case) Mike's castle. Mike bursts into tears in his turn (and this is the effect of an influence on the castle, meaning Mike's cry is the end result of Bob's actions).

To put it plainly, when you are talking about an urge to influence something or somebody in order to produce the desired result, you should use the word affect.

When you are describing the outcome or result of a certain influence, that would be the word starting with an "e."

How do you remember the difference in the use of these words? We are suggesting using the power of association.

  • A-ffect stands for A-ction — both words start with the same letter. The meaning of action is conveyed through verbs. So affect is a verb.
  • E-ffect might stand for hypothetical E-motion that might arise due to the outcome. Emotion is mainly represented by nouns. So, in this case, it is a noun.

When to use affect

Affect is a verb and denotes an action. Use it in these situations:

  • To impact the person or thing to cause the change.
    • Overhydration affected the flower.
  • To make an impression on someone or provoke feelings.
    • The movie affected her deeply.
  • To pretend to have certain feelings or emotions.
    • She affected ignorance when she was asked about the car accident.

When to use effect

Here, this word is a noun that means a result of a change. It stands for:

  • The outcome of a particular influence
    • Direct sunlight has a negative effect on the skin.
  • The use of something
    • The new driving laws come into effect this summer.
  • A distinctive impression
    • The earings give off an effect of antique jewelry because of the polishing.

Mind the exceptions of affect vs effect!

English is a tricky language because of all the exceptions. A single rule might have dozens of them. Where would we be without those exceptions?!

So, giving you guidelines like, "use affect and effect as a verb and a noun" is unfair. The English language has mixed everything up. You should know that "affect" can be used as a noun, while the other can become action. These tricky words have different meanings when switched to some other part of a sentence.

Affect as a noun

Affect stands for an instantly expressed emotion like euphoria, anger, or sadness. This term is mostly used in psychological jargon. However, you should bear in mind the use of "affect" as a noun is also possible.

Example:

Her affect doesn't mean anything! She was too scared to control her feelings.

Effect as a verb

The e-word as a verb means to accomplish something, make something happen, or put something in operation.

Example:

The government effected radical measures to prevent water pollution.

These are rare instances when the word roles are switched. But those who are aware of these cases will be prepared for anything.

How a simple mistake can ruin everything

The misuse of these words will not affect your performance heavily when you are a student. The worst thing that can happen is the grade will be reduced because of the lexical error. But it might have an effect on your reputation because the blooper can generate the wrong impression in the teacher's mind. If you make such an obvious error, how can you grasp other more difficult material?

So use our tips! And make it clear for yourself once and for all: "affect" is an action (verb), and "effect" is a notion (noun).

With this, we have two questions for you.

How will this article affect your knowledge scope? What effect do you predict it will have on your vocabulary?