Discovering the Difference ~ Effect v. Affect

While searching for additional information to prepare our 7th grade students for the upcoming writing portion of our MEAP test in October, I found the following article that does an adequate job of making the distinction between two words that, to be honest, still confound me from time to time.

The article is posted here as a reference which we hope students to find useful!

Effect Vs. Affect

Author: David Bowman

These two words, with such different meanings, are frequently interchanged in writing. The problem is that they sound so similar, which causes many writers to use the wrong one. A little basic knowledge of English grammar will help you know which one to use–and why.

1. Common uses

Effect” is most commonly used as a noun and refers to something that happens because of some action or event. A good synonym is “result.” For example, pretend that you are watching a fireworks display, and one rocket makes a really big boom. The person next to you, deafened by the blast, turns to you and shouts, “That was a really great effect.” That person is referring to the blast that occurred when the rocket exploded, i.e., the result of the explosion.

Affect” is most commonly used as a verb and refers to the action of influencing something else. In fact, “influence” (the verb) is a good synonym. For example, when the person just mentioned has finished shouting about the effect, you might respond, “Yeah, it must have affected your hearing.”

Here are a few more samples:

1. What will be the effect of winking at her? Will winking affect her opinion of me?

2. When she smiles at me, my whole day is affected. It’s a strange effect.

2. Less common uses

“Effect” is sometimes used as a verb, though we don’t like this use. It is too “new-speaky” for us, like using “dialogue” as a verb, which it isn’t. When “effect” is being used as a verb, it refers to the action of causing something to occur. An example of this is: “My wink effected a change in her attitude about me.”

Affect” can be correctly used as a noun. As a noun, this refers to emotions or an emotional response. You will find many examples of this in psychology documents. An example is: “Her affect was strange when I winked at her.”

3. Quick Summary

Effect: Noun, means result

Affect: Verb, means influence; Noun, means emotional response

Since so many writers mistake these two words, editors at Precise Edit usually do a search for them when editing. We examine each occurrence and make sure the correct word is being used. Correct word choice, after all, is a sign of being a professional writer.

About the Author:

David Bowman is the Owner and Chief Editor of Precise Edit (, a comprehensive editing, proofreading, and document analysis service for authors, students, and businesses. Precise Edit also offers a variety of other services, such as translation, transcription, and website development.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.comEffect Vs. Affect

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9 Responses

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  1. Chloe A 09/28/2009 at 9:22 am | | Reply

    I think this article is really neat. I often wonder and am confused about whether to use affect of effect. A quick article like this with a few helpful hints at remembering when to use each one is really helpful to me.

  2. Haili L 09/28/2009 at 10:41 am | | Reply

    That was helpful, I never really understood what the difference between the words was and I used the wrong one sometimes.

  3. Audrey H 09/28/2009 at 10:43 am | | Reply

    I was confused about the meaning of both of those words, but now it’s more clear. Some of that piece was a little bit hard to understand. But most of it was clear.

  4. trenton s 09/28/2009 at 2:18 pm | | Reply

    i like how the page tells you wht a cause and effect is.

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