Lesson: effect versus affect
In English, being the difficult language that it is, one letter can change a lot. Perhaps the two biggest pests of this problem are effect and affect. Interchanging their meanings is one of the most common errors in writing. But fear no more, word switcher-uppers, Grammar Party is here to save the day.
Let’s get clear on the difference between the two words.
The majority of the time, affect is a verb. It means “to influence” or “to produce a change in.”
Example: Eating three boxes of cookies affected the size of my waistline.
Affect can also mean “to act in a way that is not genuine.” This definition can be tricky, but you may recognize the use in this next sentence.
Example: He affected a fake British accent so people thought he was smart.
Effect is almost all the time used as a noun. It means “a result.”
Example: The effect of eating three boxes of cookies is a bigger waistline.
To sum up
We can remember effect (result) and affect (produce change) this way:
The result will produce change.
The effect will affect.
Let’s test your new skills with this quiz. Replace the blank with either effect or affect.
1. It rained cats and dogs. The _________ was mounds of splattered cats and dogs on the sidewalk.
2. The mounds of splattered cats and dogs will likely ________ the smell of the air in a bad way.
3. Even though she hated animals, she tried to __________ an attitude that she was sad about the splattered cats and dogs.
Answer key: 1. effect 2. affect 3. affect