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AFFECT versus EFFECT
People often mix up the words affect and effect. They may sound the same for most uses (although they do sound different with other purposes and contexts), but these words have different meanings and uses. This should help you to use them properly.
Affect is usually a verb and means to impact, change, alter, influence, or modify something. One thing affects another — A affects B. If you can substitute another verb such as change or alter, then use affect.
- The rain affected our plans to be outside.
- This medication will affect his muscles.
- This cold weather is affecting my mood.
- My supervisor’s attitude affects my morale.
- All that construction is affecting traffic.
- His illness really affected her.
- Coffee definitely affects my energy level.
Effect is usually a noun and means the outcome, result, or consequence. One thing causes an effect on something — A has an effect on B. If you can substitute another noun such as outcome or result, then use effect.
- The rain had an effect on our plans.
- The medication had a strong effect on him.
- This cold weather has an effect on my mood.
- My supervisor’s attitude has an effect on my morale.
- The construction has a big effect on traffic.
- His illness had a big effect on her.
- Coffee has a huge effect on my energy level.
A hint to help you remember:
A is for Action. If it is action — which starts with an “a” — use affect.
E is for End result. If it is an end result — which starts with an “e” — use effect.
A simple test: If you can substitute a verb such as alter, use affect.
If you can substitute a noun such as result, use effect.
Additional meanings and uses:
Affect can also be a noun meaning emotion, feeling, or emotional response, and is generally used in a psychological context. Please note this word is pronounced differently, with an accent on the first syllable.
- She had a flat affect when the therapist spoke with her.
- His affect did not change after getting the devastating news.
- She had a sad and subdued affect after her mother passed.
Effect can also be a verb meaning bring about or create.
- They wanted to effect change in how things were done.
- The protests may effect a change in the rules.
- She tried to effect change in the grading system.
However, these meanings and uses are not as common.
Please look at the chart for an easy summary and helpful reminder.