Affect or Effect?

How do the effects of these words affect you?


It's easy to confuse affect and effect. They look and sound too much alike! Their meanings are different-- but similar too. Now we will clear up the confusion once and for all.


The hardest part? --and many native speakers don't know this-- Both words are nouns. Both words are verbs. That sounds too complicated, but it doesn't have to be.


We will start with the most common usages of these words: affect as a verb and effect as a noun.


Affect (v) \ ə-ˈfekt\

Most of the time affect is used as a verb. As a verb, affect is pronounced \ ə-ˈfekt\. The second syllable is stressed.

The verb affect means to impact or change something directly.


To remember this, think of a verb as an action. Both action and affect begin with A.


Example:

Your hard work affects your family positively.

In other words:

Your hard work impacts your family positively.


Easy, right? So far, you've mastered almost half of what you need to know. Let's keep going.


Effect (n) \ i-ˈfekt\

Most of the time effect is used as a noun. Effect is pronounced \ i-ˈfekt\ with the stress on the second syllable. The noun effect means the consequence of an action or the result caused by an action.


To remember this, think of the common phrase cause and effect.

A cause leads to an effect much like the E at the end of cause leads to the E at the beginning of effect.


Example:

Your thoughtful actions have a positive effect on your family.

In other words:

Your thoughtful actions create a positive result for your family.


The prepositions changed, but otherwise, the bolded words are roughly interchangeable here.

Less Common but Also Correct


Now, we'll explain the less common usages of affect and effect.


Affect is also a noun. Effect can be a verb.


Affect (n) \ ˈa-ˌfekt\

Affect, as a noun, sounds a little different from affect as a verb. It is pronounced \ ˈa-ˌfekt\ and the emphasis is on the first syllable. The noun affect means the outward appearing markers of inner mood, emotion, perception, or reaction. Notice that these words--markers, mood, emotion, perception, reaction-- are all nouns too.


Example:

After she witnessed the attack, her overall affect was that of shock.

In other words:

After she witnessed the attack, she displayed behaviors that indicated shock.

Note: affect: display of behaviors indicating a mood or state of mind


Effect (v)


Effect as a noun or verb is pronounced exactly the same way: \ i-ˈfekt\ with the stress on the second syllable. Effect, as a verb, means to cause a result or a change to occur rather than to change or impact something directly. In these cases, effect is followed by a noun.


Example:

Covid19 effected amendments to our company's work-from-home policy.

In other words:

Covid19 caused amendments to be made to our company's work-from-home policy.

Note: amendments=major changes

Bonus

True to form, we at the Level Up Your English blog always aim to give you a bonus example of a single sentence containing all of the words of the topic. This is never easy, but we love to deliver.


Bonus Example:

The child's plea and sad affect had no effect on his teacher who wished to effect a permanent shift in his behavior, so he would not continue to adversely affect the focus of the other students in the class.


Whew! Thanks for reading! See you next time.

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