Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grammar Check - "affect" vs. "effect"

This is another topic I'm hoping to make a regular series on my blog. Once a month, I'll post grammar rules, tips, and tricks. As the person in my inner circle most likely to care about minute grammar rules, I'm the de facto phone-a-friend lifeline whenever someone I know has a question. Most grammar rules are pretty simple once you know them, so hopefully you'll all find this a valuable resource.

This first topic is one that I get asked a lot: What is the difference between "affect" vs. "effect"?

The answer is usually pretty clear-cut. Most of the time, "affect" is a verb, and "effect" is a noun. A quick and dirty way to remember that? If you affect something, it's an action. If there's an effect, it's usually an event.

Of course, there are always exceptions. There is a noun form of "affect." It means, "An expressed or observed emotional response."[1] This is mostly used in a psychological capacity. For example, a person can have a flat affect, where they don't show much emotion on their face.

And "effect" can occasionally be a verb, meaning, "To produce as an effect."[2] Used in context, you could say something like, "She effected a change using Pavlovian methods." I'll be honest: I had to look this one up because I don't believe I've ever used "effect" as a verb.

There you have it. Like I said, 99% of the time, you'll be safe if you use "affect" as a verb and "effect" as a noun. Don't overthink it too much, and you should be good to go!

If there are any topics you want me to cover in this series, leave me a comment or email me at tobisummers@writeme.com.

1 comment:

  1. I like the phrase "effect a change", but I can't think of many other ways it can be used as a verb!

    This sounds like a great series. I'm a bit of a grammar Nazi on the quiet, too. :)