Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Writing Wednesday: Affect vs. effect

I asked Andrew what he thought this week's Writing Wednesday should feature, and he told me I should explain the difference between affect and effect and the times when you should use one or the other.

I'll keep this week's post short and sweet, but please feel free to ask any questions!

Affect is a verb, so you need to use it when action is taking place or someone/something is being influenced. Here are a few examples of affect used correctly in a sentence:
  • She didn't let John's snarky remark affect her.
  • Global warming affects climates around the world.
  • The constant partying until 2 a.m. was affecting Walter's job performance.

Effect is usually used as a noun, which is one of the easiest ways to distinguish between the two. You can also think of it as a result of something. Here are a few ways you would use it in a sentence:
  • The movie Jurassic Park had a tremendous effect on Lindsay as a young girl.
  • I think Lord of the Rings had awesome sound effects.
  • What effect does the cost of gasoline have on your catering business?

Notice that I said effect is usually a noun. One exception to that rule is in the sentence "You have the power to effect change." In this case, effect is a verb that means "to bring about," which goes back to its definition of "result" or "outcome." However, this isn't used frequently.

Still confused? I like to think of affect as the reason something is happening or the action (Lindsay's braces are affecting her self-esteem) and effect as the result of the action (Lindsay's braces have an effect on her ability to chew properly). You can go even further and think action = affect and end = effect.

I hope that was helpful. Do you have any tips on how you remember the difference between the two — or other questions about the words? I'd love to hear your ideas!


  1. Easy. I'm still confused about "which" and "that." But don't explain... I'll find that post.

  2. i always thought about it with letters:
    Affect=cAuse A chAnge
    and Effect=rEsult

  3. Thankfully this lesson is just one that stuck with me since I've learned it and I don't ever confuse the too. Theres probably so many other concepts that are easier that I struggle with though haha. Grammar posts are such a good idea!

  4. I went to college and consider myself decently educated and this is perhaps the first time I've understood this fully, lol. Thank you!!!!


Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts! I love reading them.