Today, we are going to be talking about the differences between affect and effect.
We’ve all seen these two words, and perhaps we use them frequently within our everyday writing. As speakers of the English language, we have a general understanding of what these words mean, but it can be difficult to place where they fit in a sentence when they look and sound so dang similar to one another. So the questions are, what is the difference between these two words, and how do we use them correctly in our writing?
What Are the Definitions?
First, let’s take a look at the most common definitions for these words and how they are used in a sentence.
Affect (Verb) — to influence; to make a change to
Effect (Noun) — the result of a change
In short, when something *affects* (verb) something else, it has caused an *effect* (noun).
Some writers even use the acronym of RAVEN to help them choose between these two words:
Affect is a
Effect is a
Consider the following uses of affect and effect being used in these sample sentences:
1. The Polyjuice potion didn’t affect Hermione in the intended way and instead had a rather feline effect on her appearance.
— In this sentence, the word affect is used as a verb to show the Polyjuice potion’s active influence on Hermione’s appearance, while effect is used as a noun to present the result of this change.
2. When he first picked up the Ring, Bilbo Baggins had no idea how much the small item would affect the course of his entire life — and the lives of many others.
— In this sentence, the word affect is used to show how the Ring’s presence influences the people of Middle Earth.
3. The effects of Thanos’s snap would soon become apparent, as lives throughout the universe would soon be reduced to nothing but dust.
— This sentence’s use of effect shows the result of Thanos’s fatal snap.
This seems pretty simple to remember, right?
Exceptions to the Rule
But wait—there’s more! As we all know, English isn’t always as easy and straightforward as we would often wish. There are going to be exceptions to every rule.
In some cases, affect is a noun, and effect is a verb. But how will we know the correct usage now? The simplest way is to determine the definition of the words.
When affect is used as a noun, the definition of the word is changed — the same goes for when effect is used as a verb. Consider the changes below:
Affect (Noun) — the experience of emotion/feelings; a specific emotional response
Effect (Verb) — to cause something to happen; to bring about
So now that we know all of the definitions of these words, we have a better idea of how to use them in a sentence. Consider the following:
1. While at the Wiggles concert, Jim’s affect was sudden and joyous.
— In this sentence, the word affect is used to show how Jim is experiencing a subjective feeling of happiness while listening to “Hot Potato.”
2. The HOA effected many new changes within the neighborhood.
— In this sentence, the use of effect is demonstrating how the HOA is causing changes to happen throughout a community.
All Definitions Together
To really drive things home, let’s shake things up a little and use both versions of affect and effect in some sentences together.
1. The fairytale creatures effected many unwanted changes within the swamp, which greatly affected Shrek’s mood.
— In this sentence, effected (verb) is used to show how Shrek’s unwanted visitors brought about changes to his home, and affected (verb) presents the decline in his attitude.
2. As the voices of the protestors became louder, Shirley’s affect was somewhere between pride and fear, and she could only hope that their combined efforts would have a positive effect on the community.
— In this sentence, affect (noun) is used to present Shirley’s experience of emotion throughout her protest, and effect (noun) is used to examine the possible positive results of their actions.
Now You’re An Expert
If you’re ever in doubt about whether to use effect or affect within a sentence, consider the meaning behind the word you’re using to make the correct choice.
Until next time!