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Lucy R.

asked • 12/10/12

How do I know when to use affect vs effect?

How do I know when to use affect vs effect?

Sonya S.

It will affect my grade if I do not complete the test. It had an effect on my grade point average. I was also affected by the effect of my grade point average.
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05/03/19

25 Answers By Expert Tutors

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Marissa M. answered • 03/22/13

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Dorota G. answered • 06/19/13

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Josiah L. answered • 05/16/13

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Noel H.

Yes,but you didn't say anything about the verb   to  effect.

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05/16/13

Josiah L.

Which is correct: the dictionary definitions (and if so, which dictionary), academic usage, or common usage?

Lucy, it appears to me, is confused about the basic difference.  To get into questions of what is possible and in which contexts, finally progressing to when should someone use 'effect' as a verb or 'affect' as a noun, is likely to be a wasted exercise both for myself and for the student.  

My answer, though I'd rarely go this far on this rabbit trail, is that I rarely see 'to effect' except in connection with 'to effect change', for which I would greatly prefer to use 'cause' or 'change'.  As a graduate student I cannot recall using effect as a verb, and in my readings I never saw it make a point clearer. So because I have not used and would not use it, I would not teach it.

On the other hand, the noun 'affect' I would use in connection with the idea of 'affection' or emotion.  Unless the student is writing or reading psychological works, I do not see how this usage would be helpful, so I would teach it only using discretion.

If you would both use and teach the verb 'to effect', why?  The point of teaching is to improve students' usage, in meaning, skills, and grammatico-lexically, without having them waste too much energy on rare usages, inaccuracies, or inapplicable practices.

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05/18/13

Katherine W.

Hello friends, Thank you for this discussion. Knowing the Latin sources of these two words should indeed help anyone who might want to use them. Thank you. Now, I have some comments on people's comments: 1. Yes, friends, the word AFFECT is probably used in common parlance more often as a verb than it is as a noun, as in: "The hot weather AFFECTS me badly." But this word does have a nominal use, too: "When I am super-tired, I may show an absence of AFFECT." In the former case, the verb AFFECTS can be replaced by INFLUENCES; in the latter case, the noun can be replaced by EMOTION. 2. As for EFFECT, this one is more commonly used as a noun rather than a verb in common parlance. There was a rather famous play called "The EFFECT of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds", for instance. When EFFECT is used as a verb, it means "to provoke" or "to produce", as in: "The President wanted to EFFECT a change in policy." (Note: If he wanted to AFFECT a change, he would be just wanting to have some sort of influence; when he wants to EFFECT the change, he wants to cause the change, to bring it about.) 3. When explanations such as mine are EFFECTIVE, they can EFFECT a change in how people use these words, and if these people are students, their grades may be AFFECTED in a good way, and they will show a high degree of pleased AFFECT!
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01/04/20

Wool H. answered • 08/17/19

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Connie Y. answered • 08/16/19

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Joy H. answered • 05/30/19

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Suzanne M. answered • 05/16/13

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Noel H.

No, to effect is a verb.

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05/16/13

Danilo D.

According to Merriam-Webster, the verb, to effect, can mean to cause to happen, while the verb, to affect, can mean to influence. To affect is a verb that is usually used with people or characters who have human qualities.
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06/09/19

Abby H. answered • 01/14/13

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Maurice S. answered • 12/10/12

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Noel H.

By noticing your affect?

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05/16/13

Maurice S.

Yes, affect is used as a noun in psychology to mean the visible expression of a person's emotion.
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07/30/19

Dannie B. answered • 12/10/12

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Noel H.

No. To effect is a verb.

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05/16/13

Alexander C. answered • 11d

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Sandra J. answered • 05/03/20

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Barbara H. answered • 01/09/20

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Marsha T. answered • 09/18/19

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Max C. answered • 08/01/19

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James M. answered • 03/22/13

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Noel H.

No, to effect is a verb. And no, the pronunciation is not "eff",but rather "ee"  as in the English "E".

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05/16/13

Josiah L.

Noel, 

You're correct to point out that 'effect' can be both noun and verb.  It's in poor taste to correct using 'no' followed by a counterpoint without substantiation.  By so doing, you effect a negative affect without clarifying 'why' we should agree with you.  When has someone ever changed your mind by unsubstantiated disagreement?

Cheers

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05/18/13

Jennifer C. answered • 07/28/19

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Tony B. answered • 12/31/12

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Noel H. answered • 12/12/12

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Christine M.

Thanks, Noel. Correct on both points. But for the noun/verb distinction, that is why I used "most simply." There are many exceptions that could be addressed, especially if you are British.

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12/12/12

Maurice S.

I stand by my statement that affect can be a noun.  As found in the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

: the conscious subjective aspect of an emotion considered apart from bodily changes; also : a set of observable manifestations of a subjectively experienced emotion <patients … showed perfectly normal reactions and affects — Oliver Sacks>

They also cite the following example:

There's a good plot and good writing here, but Mallory's gender neutrality, conspicuous in her lack of affect, makes her seem like a comic-book character. —Cynthia Crossen, Wall Street Journal, 5 Oct. 1994

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12/31/12

Maurice S.

And Noel is actually mistaken, nothing has an affect on you.  It's an effect.

See the same online Merriam-Webster Dictionary which gives the following examples:

He now needs more of the drug to achieve the same effect.

The experience has had a bad effect on him.

Computers have had a profound effect on our lives.

The effects of the drug soon wore off.

This treatment causes fewer ill effects.

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12/31/12

Noel H.

Yes ,that's right: to have an affect on someone. I forgot.

But I knew I'd seen it used as a noun. But it's not seen very much. Mainly in psychology. Having to do with " emotional affect". And the stress is usually then on the 1st syllable.

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05/16/13

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