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. We 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, September 27, 2017, at 5:21 pm

2 Comments on Effect vs. Affect

2 responses to “Effect vs. Affect

  1. Jane says:

    I find it easier to think of effect as active and affect as passive.

    Effect (Active): His medicine was effective for a short time. The law had a
    good effect on his behavior.

    Affect (Passive): Her affect was sad. Paralysis affected her legs.

    • Your interpretation of “active” and “passive” is a personal one. Grammatically, both of your “Affect” sentences are in the active voice. We are concerned that your method will not always yield the correct result.

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