Affect vs Effect: What’s the Difference?

      Knowing when to use affect with an “a” and effect with an “e” is a common grammatical problem that troubles even the strongest writers. Why do both words exist? Is it easier to just use two totally different words in their spots?

      Even though we might like them to, affect and effect aren’t going anywhere, so it is best to learn how to use them correctly. Furthermore, these words are commonly used in research papers when discussing experiments and results. Learning how to use them correctly will help ensure you’re writing with authority and projecting a professional appearance.

grammar

What’s the difference?

Defining Affect

      Affect means “to act on” and “to influence.” Affect can also mean “to impress the mind or move the feelings.” Basically, this means that affect is used to bring on or cause a change. It can also mean to change an emotion.

Defining Effect

      The dictionary defines an effect as “something brought about by a cause or an agent; a result.” In many instances the dictionary makes things more confusing and this is one of those instances. In the simplest terms possible, effect means a result.

      Not only are both words very close in spelling and sound, but their definitions are also related, so if you’re already confused about their usage, these definitions may not be that helpful!

The Big Difference

      The big difference between affect and effect is fairly straightforward.

Affect is almost always used as a verb and effect is almost always used as a noun.

      Remembering this is the key to success.

Examples of Affect and Effect

      Learning how to spot and use the difference between affect and effect is made easier by examples.

      Here are two ways that affect can be used in a sentence:

  • The bad weather affected our plans to go to the park.
  • The rising prices will affect nearly everyone.

      And here are two ways that effect can be used in a sentence:

  • It was a snowy night and the effect was a large amount of snow in the morning.
  • The effect of the snow was school closing for the day.

Try it Yourself

      Try filling in the blanks in the following sentences with affect or effect.

  • His recent sickness _____ed his ability to shoot the basketball, but the _____ of many years of training was that he could still score a jump shot.
  • An _____ of food poisoning is that you will become sick. Being sick _____s your ability to go hang out with your friends.

      Answers: ‘affect, effect’ in the first sentence and ‘effect, affect’ in the second sentence.

Examples

Here are some more examples showing their usage in sentences:

Affect

  • Editing a research paper affects how professional it looks to journals.
  • The woman reading the book was severely affected by the emotions it brought up in her.
  • The weather affected our plans to go to the park today; we decided to go to the movies instead.
  • The beautiful painting affects everyone who sees it.

Effect

  • Poor language and grammar can have a negative effect on your writing.
  • What is the desired effect of having your paper edited?
  • The rising price of housing has an effect on nearly everyone.
  • The medicine has an immediate effect.

       If you need more practice, try writing a few sentences using each word.

Remembering that affect is always used as a verb and effect is always used as a noun is going to be your biggest help.

Exceptions

      Affect is almost always used as a verb, but it can less commonly be used as a noun meaning ‘someone’s demeanor or attitude.’ One place you may use this is if you are writing a research paper in psychology. For example, “study participants displayed a sad affect when they were presented with depressing images.”

      On the other hand, effect can occasionally be used as a verb meaning ‘to bring about.’ An example would be, “the snow falling effected a change in their plans.” Because of the snow, the plans were changed.

      In the vast majority of cases however, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

A simple trick that may help you remember this is to think about the word RAVEN.

R-emember

A-ffect is a

V-erb and

E-ffect is a

N-oun

editing and proofreading crow
academic paper editing

      This is a quick and simple way to remember how the words should be used in MOST cases.

      With practice, learning the difference between affect and effect can be easy and will greatly improve your writing.

Got questions? Just ask us.

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