Sign Up For Our Free Grammar E-Newsletter

Effect vs. Affect

Knowing whether to use effect or affect may not qualify you as a genius, but you will be demonstrating an understanding about a grammar issue most people find perplexing. I trust that the strategies offered here will clear up any confusion you have had.

Rule: Use the verb effect when you mean bring about or brought about, cause or caused.
Example: He effected a commotion in the crowd.
Meaning: He caused a commotion in the crowd.
Example: She effected a change in procedure.
Meaning: She brought about a change in procedure.

Rule: Use the noun effect when you mean result.
Example: What effect did that speech have?

Rule: Use the verb affect when you mean to influence rather than to cause.
Example: How do the budget cuts affect your staffing?

Rule: Affect is also used as a noun to mean emotional expression.
Example: She showed little affect when told she had won the lottery.

Posted on Wednesday, January 10, 2007, at 3:57 pm


4 Comments

4 Responses to “Effect vs. Affect

  1. Tim says:

    Your use of per se is a classic malapropism. It is often used as exactly or necessarily as you have, but is better translated as “in and of itself”.

  2. Jane says:

    Tim, thank you for pointing this out. I learned something new today!

  3. mhikl says:

    Jane, your explanation is the most succinct of the six I have reviewed. I have copied the examples from the other grammarians but your explanation heads the examples that I have my students study.

    Tim’s point is a good one and I shall use ‘in and of itself’ henceforth. Often borrowed worlds have an effect, slightly jarring, distracting from the whole or, as Tim points out, fail to match the meaning of a better word or phrase from the language being used.

    And kudos, my dear, for your strength of presence to accept and respond to Tim’s information. I, too, am always thrilled to have my errors pointed out to me. How else can we learn from the habits we accumulate in our journeys through complex lives.

    Namaste and care to all sentient beings across our ever-being, not expanding, conscious universe.

Leave a Reply