5.09.2007

Affect vs. Effect

Puzzled by the decidedly slippery difference between the words 'Affect' and 'Effect,' I decided to Learn Something New Today and post my findings. Come along with me on a magical grammatical journey!

Generally speaking 'affect' is a verb. "Not knowing the difference between the two affected her ability to concentrate at work."
And also, generally speaking 'effect' is a noun. "Studying the dictionary had no effect on the current debate."

Those are general rules and will be correct most of the time.

But in order to effectively use both words, you should also know when they flip-flop roles.

The so-called verb 'affect' becomes a noun when speaking of a person's psychology. "He had an affect of politeness about the whole grammar issue."

'Effect' becomes a verb when speaking of "causing change" or "accomplishing." Ex: "The grammarian hoped to effect change with regards to the two troublesome words."

Now to get more confusing: To nit pick the major definitions of the two words leads us to the following conclusion: 'affect' is to influence, 'effect' is a cause. Catch the difference there? Yeah, me neither. One more time. Affect something and you influence it. But to effect something you actually cause it to change. If you like to think of it this way, you can - affect is the act and effect is the result

So, to review. Affect, verb to influence, or noun, how you appear to be feeling; Effect, noun demonstrating the result of change, or verb, to accomplish change.

I hope that this little post has had the proper effect and helps affect your ability to write clearly. If not, you can just affect an air of knowledgeability and trust that this lesson will one day effect a clarity on your grammar.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Jon said...

excellent, excellent, excellent. I now feel fully equipped!

Can you do the difference between inquiry and enquiry next time?

ta!

J

9/5/07 10:40  
Blogger k_sra said...

inquiry: correct
enquiry: also correct, but mostly confined to England.

Or so i gather. Not terribly clear, really. Requires further i(e)nquiry.

11/5/07 07:05  

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