Affect and effect are similar words with comparable meanings and pronunciations, so it’s little wonder that so many speakers of American English confuse the two. Here we will provide a quick guide for using the two words correctly.
The basic starting difference between affect and effect is:
- affect is typically used as a verb that refers to an action.
- effect is typically used as a noun that refers to an outcome.
In other words, an action can affect something. The result of that action is an effect. Affect is what’s happening; effect is a result.
Affect in a Sentence
As we’ve established, affect is often used as a verb, as in the following sentences:
- I was tired from traveling, but I tried to not let it affect my performance at the convention.
- You cannot accomplish great things if you let criticism from strangers affect
- As inspiration to save more money, think of how losing your income for six months or longer would affect your family.
Effect in a Sentence
Once again, in many cases, effect is the result of action, as shown in these examples:
- Shining blue light on the snowfall created an interesting effect.
- Giving Greg a huge bonus had the effect of motivating him.
- Improved sleep has been a favorable side effect of my new workout plan.
Distinguishing Affect and Effect: Two Easy Ways to Remember
Beyond identifying most uses of affect as verbs and effect as nouns, you can also remember the RAVEN shortcut in helping you decide on the correct word:
Affect and Effect: When They Flip-Flop
Although more rare that the usage we’ve identified, affect can serve as a noun and effect can act as a verb.
Affect as a noun usually describes someone’s emotional state: Jeremiah’s therapy is having a positive impact on his daily affect.
Effect as a verb means “to bring about” or “to cause”: The campaign intends to effect longer-lasting protections for the region’s wildlife.
Using what you’ve learned in this article, choose the correct word in each sentence.
- I love the soothing [affect/effect] of gently falling raindrops.
- Researchers are conducting a study to see whether coffee will [affect/effect] students’ concentration.
- My friend hopes the weather in New York will not [affect/effect] his flight arrival time.
- Your daily nutrition habits will [affect/effect] the results you get from your exercise routine.
- Government economists hope the new tax law will have a positive [affect/effect] on economic growth.
Pop Quiz Answers
- I love the soothing effect of gently falling raindrops.
- Researchers are conducting a study to see whether coffee will affect students’ concentration.
- My friend hopes the weather in New York will not affect his flight arrival time.
- Your daily nutrition habits will affect the results you get from your exercise routine.
- Government economists hope the new tax law will have a positive effect on economic growth.
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