Affect and effect sound almost identical, yet they are different words with different meanings. A lot of people confuse them and use them incorrectly, especially those whose first language is not English. This can make them sound funny or in some cases unprofessional. That’s why it’s important to understand their differences and use the right word every time.
Affect and effect are different parts of speech, so using one word instead of the other in the sentence is wrong. Even though people will probably understand what you’re trying to say, they may get the wrong impression.
So, here’s everything you need to know so that you can use affect and effect correctly.
Affect vs. Effect – How to Make a Difference
In order to make a difference between these two words and use them correctly, you need to know their meaning, how to use them properly, and see a few examples of each.
Affect – Meaning, Usage, and Examples
Affect is a verb which means to influence someone or something, or to produce a change in something or someone.
Ex. The teacher let her emotions affect her grading.
Ex. My laziness affected my final grades this year.
To check if you really need the word “affect” in a sentence and not “effect”, try replacing it with another verb. Verbs are words which describe actions or state of being. If you can replace it with another verb, then you’re using the right word.
- Ex. The teacher let her emotions influence her grading.
- Ex. My laziness changed my final grades this year.
Synonyms of Affect
Here are a few other words you can use instead of affect:
Effect – Meaning, Usage, Examples
Effect is a noun which explains the results of an action or a certain feeling or mood caused by someone/something.
- Ex. Her headache was an effect of staring at her screen for too long.
- Ex. The effects of air pollution are already devastating.
To check if you really need the noun “effect” and not the verb “affect”, see if you can replace it with another noun. Nouns are words that name places, people, things, or animals in the sentence. If you can replace “effect” with another noun, you’re using the right word.
Ex. Her headache was a result of staring at her screen for too long.
Ex. The consequences of air pollution are already devastating.
Also, nouns such as “effect” can take a definite article “the” or indefinite article “an” before them. So, if you can add “the” or “an” before the word, you need a noun.
Ex. The effect of mobile phone usage on students is shocking.
Synonyms of Effect
Other words that have the same or similar meaning as effect are:
- End result
Affect vs. Effect – Comparison
Affect or effect? How to choose the right word? Well, if you need a word that expresses an action, to impact or influence someone or something so that certain changes are made, you need the verb “affect”. On the other hand, if you need a word that expresses the results of an action, or the consequences, you need the noun “effect.”
- Ex. Global warming affects the entire planet. The effects of global warming include glaciers melting rapidly.
Tips to Remember the Difference between Affect and Effect More Easily
Here are a few tips to help you remember the difference between these two words more easily.
One way is to connect the first letter of each word with a specific word or phrase. When it comes to the verb “affect”, you can link the first letter “a” with “action” – it’s what verbs express.
The noun “effect”, on the other hand, can be easily remembered by linking the first letter “e” with the last word of “cause” from the popular expression “cause and effect”. If you think about it, causes always lead to effects, don’t they?
Another trick to help you pick the right word every time is to remember the word “RAVEN”. Here’s what each letter of this acronym represents:
- R – remember
- A – affect
- V – verb
- E – effect
- N – noun
If you connect these words and add a few more, you get “Remember affect is a verb, and effect is a noun”. By remember the word “RAVEN”, you can easily remember the right use of each word.
Now that you know the basic rules of affect vs. effect and how to use them correctly, here are a few exceptions to shake things up.
Even though “affect” is a verb, in some cases it can be a noun. This happens usually in psychology where it means emotion, feeling, or a certain emotional response.
- Ex. Her affect didn’t change after seeing them together.
“Effect”, on the other hand, can be used as a verb with the meaning “accomplish” or “to cause to come into being”.
- Ex. The protest effected change within the industry.
As with any exceptions, these can make things even more confusing. Therefore, it’s best to stick to the basic rules of using affect and effect and most of the time you’ll be choosing the right word.
Affect and effect is a sound-alike pair in English, confusing many students whose English is not their native language. But, these are different parts of speech with different meanings, so it’s important that you learn their differences so that you can use them properly.
Luckily, there are a few tricks that will help you remember their differences more easily, such as the acronym “RAVEN” or linking the first letter of each word with a specific meaning.