How do I know when to use affect vs effect?
How do I know when to use affect vs effect?
Affect comes from ad- (meaning 'to') and facere (to do/make). To affect is to do or cause, hence it is a verb.
Effect comes from ex- (meaning 'out') and facere again. The effect (noun) is the outcome or result.
Instead of saying change (which is both noun and verb), to make a change is to affect while the change made is effect. E.g.: The smog affected her health with only harmful effects.
It's very easy! Just remember the raven.
To add some other differences to Dannie's answer:
You affect something by changing it - the wonderful weather affected my mood!
You effect a change in something - he was strong enough to effect a change in the pressure of the car on my foot.
Something has an effect on you - The effect of the rain was that I was wet.
People see your affect - by noticing my affect, people can tell my mood.
I remember it this way:
Effect --> result (they both have the letter 'e') Here, result means to be the outcome of.
Affect --> impact (they both have the letter 'a') Here, impact means to influence.
To keep it simple, contrast the two statements below. They mean the same thing.
The experience affected me in a profound way.
The experience had a profound effect on me.
Notice that "affect" is a verb (which expresses action), which may change its form according it the grammatical tense, and "effect" is usually a noun.
If "effect" is used as a verb ( This will effect the change), it will mean "cause", or "bring about".
Affect is a Verb. Effect is a Noun. When you MAKE a change in something, you AFFECT it. When something happens and there is a specific result, that specific result is the EFFECT. That's the most basic way I can describe it without getting into a ton of details that won't mean anything to you. Affect=Verb; Effect=Noun. Good luck!
Grace and Peace,
You can also remember them by alphabetical order. Affect is what happens before the effect and an effect is what happens after the affect. ex. Practicing at the batting cages will affect your batting. The effect will be a higher batting average. (Affect happens first, effect second)
Read through all of these posts aloud and add emphasis to the /ae/ sound in affect (think 'cat') and the /eh/ sound in effect (think 'egg'). By the time you're done, it should be drilled in your head.
Also, effect is a noun, think special effects.
Affect Versus Effect
Episode 121: July 29, 2008
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by Mignon Fogarty
This is an expanded show based on the original episode covering when to use affect with an a and when to use effect with an e.
I get asked whether to use affect or effect all the time and it is by far the most requested grammar topic, so I have a few mnemonics and a cartoon to help you remember.
What Is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?
Before we get to the memory trick though, I want to explain the difference between the two words.
It's actually pretty straightforward. The majority of the time you use affect with an a as a verb and effect with an e as a noun.
When Should You Use Affect?
Affect with an a means "to influence," as in, "The arrows affected Aardvark," or "The rain affected Amy's hairdo." Affect can also mean, roughly, "to act in a way that you don't feel," as in, "She affected an air of superiority."
When Should You UseEffect?
Effect with an e has a lot of subtle meanings as a noun, but to me the meaning "a result" seems to be at the core of all the definitions. For example, you can say, "The effect was eye-popping," or "The sound effects were amazing," or "The rain had no effect on Amy's hairdo."
Common Uses of Affect and Effect
Most of the time affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun.
So most of the time affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun. There are rare instances where the roles are switched, and I'll get to those later, but for now let's focus on the common meanings. This is "Quick and Dirty" grammar, and my impression from your questions is that most people have trouble remembering the basic rules of when to use these words, so if you stick with those, you'll be right 95% of the time.
So, most of the time, affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun; and now we can get to the mnemonics. First, the mnemonic involves a very easy noun to help you remember: aardvark. Yes, if you can remember aardvark -- a very easy noun -- you'll always remember that affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun. Why? Because the first letters of "a very easy noun" are the same first letters as "affect verb effect noun!" That's a very easy noun. Affect (with an a) verb effect (with an e) noun.
"But why Aardvark?" you ask. Because there's also an example to help you remember. It's "The arrows affected Aardvark. The effect was eye-popping." It should be easy to remember that affect with an a goes with the a-words, arrow and aardvark, and that effect with an e goes with the e-word, eye-popping. If you can visualize the sentences, "The arrows affected the aardvark. The effect was eye-popping," it's pretty easy to see that affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun.
The illustration of the example is from my new book. It's Aardvark being affected by arrows, and I think looking at it will help you remember the example sentences; and it's cute. You can print it out and hang it by your desk.
So a very easy noun will help you remember that affect with an a is a verb and effect with an e is a noun, and the example will help you see how to use both words in a sentence.
Rare Uses of Affect and Effect
So what about those rare meanings that don't follow the rules I just gave you? Well, affect can be used as a noun when you're talking about psychology--it means the mood that someone appears to have. For example, "She displayed a happy affect." Psychologists find it useful because they know that you can never really understand what someone else is feeling. You can only know how they appear to be feeling.
And, effect can be used as a verb that essentially means "to bring about," or "to accomplish." For example, you could say, "Aardvark hoped to effect change within the burrow."
If you have a question for the show, send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to me on Facebook or Twitter.
That's all. Thanks for listening.
Thanks to Randall Munroe from XKCD.com who drew the stickman cartoon.
Most simply, as Dannie B. wrote, "affect" is a verb, and "effect" is a noun. "The lightning burst affected my vision briefly, causing the effect of starbursts in my eyes." This is a terrible sentence, but I hope makes the point.
I'll start with an example. You 'affect' something by doing something. For instance, I affect my grades by how much I study. You create an 'effect' when you do something. For example, the effect of my studying improved my grades.
To put it in more technical terms, affect is a verb. You use it when you are doing something by affecting it. Effect is a noun. You use it when something had an effect or there was an effect.
Danny and Christine are right,except that "to effect" can also be a verb (obviously): as in "to effect change".(not meaning to steal Maurice's example,but that is the one I had thought of too.)
Maurice,however, is mistaken: something has an "affect" on you,not an effect.