Raise your hand if you've ever been typing a paper -- or even sending an email -- and stopped to wonder if you need to use affect or effect. We've all been there before.
Affect and effect belong to that tricky family of words known as homophones. That means they sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Other commonly confused homophones are two/to/too, accept/except, and there/their/they're. For now, let's tackle the problem of affect vs. effect so we never have to stop mid-text again and wonder about choosing the right word again.
Definition of Affect and Effect
In order to understand when to choose affect vs. effect, let's take a look at each of their meanings.
Affect (verb) means to produce a change or influence something.
Effect (noun) indicates an event whereby a change has occurred.
Grammar Rules for Affect and Effect
Sometimes a straightforward definition doesn't quite cut it. To fully understand a word's meaning, it helps to see it in action. The power of context clues is real. So, let's dig a little deeper into the grammar rules governing these words with some tips and examples.
1. Affect is almost always used as a verb. Use it to mean to influence someone or something, rather than cause something.
How does the crime rate affect hiring levels by local police forces?
These weather conditions will affect the number of people who'll come to the county fair.
2. Affect can be used as a noun in one particular situation: when referring to a facial expression.
The young man's facial expressions had a flat affect.
The woman took the news of her husband's death with little affect.
1. Effect is most often used as a noun. It points toward an event or a thing. It's often used when an end result is being discussed.
What effect did the loss have on the team?
Did his leaving have any effect on you?
2. Effect can follow these words: the, any, an, into, on, take, or. (Affect cannot.)
The prescribed medication had an effect on the patient's symptoms.
We have to give the changes time to take effect.
3. Effect can be used as a verb in one particular situation. It can be used to mean to accomplish something or to cause something to happen.
The new manager is bound to effect positive changes in the office.
His positive attitude will effect a tidal wave of forward movement.
Affect and Effect in Sentences
Are you starting to feel more comfortable with using affect vs. effect? Read through these example sentences for an even clearer picture of the difference between affect and effect.
Using affect in a sentence:
An early frost in Florida can affect the orange crop negatively.
One employee's negativity can affect 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 abroad.
Smoking tobacco can adversely affect your lungs and blood flow.
Her 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 rising 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 is known to affect 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 will affect everyone in the country.
That teacher affected my self-image and helped me believe in myself.
What a moving eulogy. Did it affect you, too?
Using effect in a sentence:
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 negative effect to the aesthetics of a neighborhood.
How fast you drive will have an effect on your gas mileage.
I have no idea what effect this new diet will have.
A dark paint color 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.
Will seeing a film about car crashes have an effect on teenagers?
News broadcasts can have a huge effect on public opinion.
The nose job will have an effect on her appearance, but at what cost?
A good night's sleep has a positive effect on your 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 I tell if the medication has taken effect?
Complex carbohydrates will have an effect on your athletic performance.
The horror movie had a bad effect on her.
How Will You Know Which Word to Choose?
Knowing whether to use affect or effect can be confusing, but we hope you'll now be able to make the right choice moving forward. When in doubt, consider whether you're expressing action. If so, you'll probably need to use the verb affect. If you're talking about an event that has caused change, you'll want to use the noun effect.
If there's one thing the English language excels at, it's producing exceptions to every rule. This holds true for the affect vs. effect grammar rules. But, starting with the part of speech (verb or noun) is a safe place to begin the battle between the two.
Here's our final tip: A is for action (affect); E is for end result (effect). Happy choosing!
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been typing a paper -- or even sending an email -- and stopped to wonder if you need to use affect or effect. We’ve all been there before.
Affect and effect belong to that tricky family of words known as homophones. That means they sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. Other commonly confused homophones are two/to/too, accept/except, and there/their/they're. For now, let’s tackle the problem of affect vs. effect so we never have to stop mid-text again and wonder about choosing the right word again.