Affect vs Effect And Why The Effects Affect Your Writing

Affect vs Effect

There are 368,000 Google searches every month for affect vs effect.

Clearly, we have an English language problem here.

The words affect and effect can cause a lot of confusion. It’s because they sound similar. So let’s look at the cause and effect of the problem.

Learning the difference between affect and effect is easy. All you need to remember is that one is a verb and one is a noun.

When we speak, there is no problem when we use these two words as a noun or a verb. This is because they are almost homonyms. We can use facial expressions to make our meaning clear.

I say almost because there can be a slight difference. It depends on different English language accents and pronunciation.

Affect has a schwa sound but effect uses a pure vowel sound.

effect |ɪˈfɛkt|

affect |əˈfɛkt|

In writing it is important that we use the correct parts of speech to phrase cause and effect.

Effect is usually a noun. Affect is normally a verb. But we know that it is common to confuse them.

To affect means to have a negative or positive outcome on something or someone. Or to make a difference to something. In other words, it is a verb meaning to influence or alter something. It is a cause. 

An effect is a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause. In simple terms, it is to produce an effect. It is a result.

Because affect is a verb, it is placed after the subject and can be used in all tenses.

You will use affect, affects, affected or affecting. You probably use affect as a verb in the passive voice. The game was affected by bad weather.

The word effect is a noun meaning the result or outcome.

It always takes an article. Either an, the, or the zero article when it is plural. An effect, the effect, effects.

You can use it as a noun after an adjective. A terrible effect, a side effect, a positive effect.

It needs to be a mnemonic device. It means you need to practice and remember the difference between these two confusing words.


Related reading: Sometime vs Some Time or Sometimes


The easy way to remember when to use affect or effect

When you have a doubt about these two words, just bring a bird to your mind. Think about the black raven.

Maybe you can think about Edgar Allan Poe and his poem, The Raven.

Raven affect effect

Remember that Affect is a Verb and Effect is a Noun. It’s so clear.

Another simple way is to get it right is to think double A and double E.

Affect Alters something.

Effect is an End result.

Look at the following examples. See how easy it is to get these two words right every time.


Affect vs effect examples

Affect or Effect

How to use AFFECT as a verb in a sentence:

Books give the chance to affect (alter) people’s thinking.

Walking a dog is a well-known activity to affect (alter) blood pressure in a positive way.

Positive thinking affects (alters) the recovery time of patients after surgery.

Too much rain can affect the grape crop very badly.

Italy was affected by severe temperatures last year.

A manager’s attitude can affect all the staff.

His book affected me so deeply, I cried.

Going to war is going to affect everyone.

Reducing petrol use will affect the environment positively.

Losing the election didn’t affect her as much as I thought.

What a weird movie! Did it affect you, too?

What you say does not affect my decision to change jobs.

Smoking is adversely affecting your heart and blood flow.

The weather affects the production of crops.

The new airport will affect the housing price in that suburb.

Is technology affecting young children’s early development?

Turmeric can affect a person’s blood pressure in a positive way.

My professor affected my confidence and helped me believe in what I was doing.

The government will pass a law that will affect everyone.

How long a student studies will affect his chances of passing.

Increasing the minimum monthly salary affects many families living on a low income.

Note: The use of affect as a noun is applied to some psychological terms.


Related reading: The Sentence Fragment, Run On Sentence And Compound Sentence


How to use EFFECT as a noun in a sentence:

The primary side effect (end result) of this drug is nausea.

Tax increases have an effect (end result) on the cost of retail goods.

Driving too fast will have an effect (end result) on your fuel consumption.

He noticed the effect of the medication very quickly.

The new speed limit in our street will come into effect tomorrow.

Littering has a negative effect on residents.

The speech he gave had a positive effect on his chances of being elected.

A dark wall colour will have the effect of making the room feel much smaller.

I have no clue what effect this new government will have.

The special effects in the movie were absolutely spectacular.

Journalists can have a huge effect on swaying public opinion.

The effect of her vulgar language was apparent on the faces of the audience.

Scary music in horror movies gives the effect that something awful is about to happen.

Will seeing graphic images have an effect on people reducing or stopping smoking?

Plastic surgery will have an effect on her appearance, but at what price?

The accident had a terrible effect on her.

Sleeping for eight hours can have a positive effect on your health.

The two biggest effects of her promotion were an increase in salary and a new car.

How can I tell if the medicine has taken full effect?

Too much alcohol can have a negative effect on your professional life.


Related reading: Free Writing Software And The Best Free Writing Apps


But be aware of effect as a verb

It is not used very often, but effect does have a verb form.


to effect – verb (with object)
To cause something to happen or to bring something about. The new CEO effected many new staff policy changes.

Keep in mind that affect is always a verb. But effect is usually a noun, but can sometimes be a verb.


The adjectives affective vs effective

affective effective

affective |əˈfɛktɪv|


The word affective is an adjective. It is used mostly in the field of psychology. The word refers to emotional states relating to moods, attitudes feelings, and emotions.

It can denote mental disorders when a disturbance of mood is the primary symptom. She is suffering from a seasonal affective disorder.

The affective domain describes learning objectives. These emphasise a feeling tone, an emotion, or a degree of acceptance or rejection.

But it is rarely used as a part of speech in everyday language.

Other forms
affectively adverb,
affectivity |afɛkˈtɪvɪti| noun

effective |ɪˈfɛktɪv|


Successfully producing an intended or desired result. She applied effective solutions to management problems.

When there is something existing but is not formally recognised. He has been placed under effective bankruptcy since last year.

When something is assessed according to real or actual rather than just face value. It has an effective price of $14 million.

As a noun
A soldier fit and available for service. When the battle began, he had a total of 130 effectives.

Other forms
effectivity |ɪfɛkˈtɪvɪti| noun

effectively |ɪˈfɛktɪvli|

To act in such a manner that it produces the desired result. Please make sure that all our resources are used effectively.

When something is not official or explicit.

The police were effectively controlled by the criminals they were meant to be investigating. 

Effectively, this new law will mean that corporations will be able to avoid local taxes.


Would you like an explanation by video?

Take a look at what Grammarly has to say about these two words.


When do you use a noun and when do you use a verb?

This is the key to choosing the correct word when you are deciding between the two words, affect and effect.

When you use a verb for a cause with to, ed or ing, you need to use affect.

If it is a result, it is a noun, so you will use an or the effect.

You will probably never use affective for an adjective. But you will definitely use effective.

The adverb is used a lot and it is always effectively.

It is very easy to remember the difference. Affect is a cause that alters something and effect is an end result.

Now you can use these two commonly confused words with no confusion at all.


Further reading: Lay Or Lie And How Easy It Is For Everyone To Get Them Wrong


Derek Haines

Derek Haines is an Australian author, living in Switzerland.

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