Knowing when to use affect or effect in a sentence can be a challenge. These words are examples of homonyms. Homonyms are words that are similar, but have very different meanings. Other examples of homonyms are two/to/too, accept/except, and there/their/they're.
Meaning of Affect and Effect
In order to understand the correct situation in which to use the word affect or effect, the first thing one must do is have a clear understanding of what each word means.
- Affect is a verb. It means to produce a change in or influence something.
- Effect is a noun that can also be used as a verb. It means a change that occurred. When an "s" is added, "effects" means personal belongings.
Now that we have the two definitions, how do we know which word to use? Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:
1. Affect can be used as a noun to describe facial expression.
- Example: The young man with schizophrenia had a flat affect.
- Example: The woman took the news of her husband's sudden death with little affect.
2. Affect can also be used as a verb. Use it when trying to describe influencing someone or something rather than causing it.
- Example: How does the crime rate affect hiring levels by local police forces?
- Example: The weather conditions will affect the number of people who come to the county fair this year.
1. If you are talking about a result, then use the word "effect" as a noun.
- Example: What effect did the loss have on the team?
2. It is appropriate to use the word "effect" if one of these words is used immediately before the word: "into", "on", "take", "the", "any", "an" as well as "or."
- Example: The prescribed medication had an effect on the patient's symptoms.
- Example: In analyzing a situation, it is important to take the concepts of cause and effect into consideration.
3. If you want to describe something that was caused or brought about, the right word to use is effect; but, as shown in this example, it would be a verb.
- Example: The new manager effected some positive changes in the office. (This means that the new manager caused some positive changes to take place in the office.)
Examples of Affect
- An early frost in Florida can affect the orange crop negatively.
- The boss’s negativity affected all the workers.
- Colorado was affected by severe flooding last summer.
- Not winning didn’t affect her as much as I thought it would.
- Your opinions do not affect my decision to move.
- Smoking tobacco can adversely affect your lungs and blood flow.
- The memoirs affected me so deeply I was brought to tears.
- Television can negatively affect young, developing minds.
- Hugs can affect a person’s immune system in a positive way.
- Congress will pass a law that will greatly affect the economy.
- The crime rate in that area will affect the housing market.
- How much a student studies will affect his grade point average.
- Reducing our carbon footprint will affect the environment.
- Petting a cat or a dog affects blood pressure in a positive manner.
- Raising the minimum wage affects many people living in poverty.
- Movies have the power to affect people’s thinking.
- Positive beliefs affect the healing time of patients recovering from surgery.
- Going to war affects everyone in the country.
- That teacher affected my self image and helped me believe in myself.
- The eulogy affected all the visitors in a profound way.
Examples of Effect
- Transportation costs have a direct effect on the cost of retail goods.
- The effect of the medicine on her illness was surprisingly fast.
- The new law prohibiting texting while driving will go into effect tomorrow.
- Graffiti added a strong negative effect to the aesthetics of a neighborhood.
- How fast you drive will have an effect on your gas mileage.
- In her will, she left all her personal effects to her daughter.
- A dark color of paint will have the effect of making the room seem smaller.
- One of the side effects of this particular drug is blurred vision.
- The special effects in movies today are aided by computers.
- The speech had an effect on increasing attendance.
- The effect of her singing off-key was apparent on people’s faces.
- Does seeing a film about car crashes have an effect on teenagers?
- News broadcasts can have a huge effect on public opinion.
- The nose job had an effect on her appearance, but at what cost?
- A good night’s sleep has a positive effect of your whole day.
- Creepy music in a movie gives the effect that something is about to happen.
- Two effects of her promotion were a raise in salary and a new office.
- How will you tell if the medication has taken effect?
- Complex carbohydrates will have an effect on your athletic performance.
If you need more help or want to do some practice exercises using affect and effect, the following web pages may be of assistance:
- Lesson Tutor: How Does the Effect Affect You? This lesson for teachers includes an explanation of when to use effect or affect in a sentence. A fill-in-the-blanks assignment is also included here to test what you have learned.
- Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing: If you find it easier to remember grammar rules through the use of a visual aid, visit this site. A colorful cartoon is provided to help you keep the two words straight.
Choosing between similar words can be challenging. When in doubt, check the meaning in your dictionary to be sure you are using the word correctly.