Is that the word I wanted? Part 2: effect vs. affect

by Katya Rivers

I don’t know about you, but I still mix up the words effect and affect. Which one is which? And when do I use one over the other? Here are a couple simple points to help you understand the usage of and the difference between these two words that sound so much alike but are, in fact, quite different.

Affect is usually used as a verb. It means to produce a change in or influence something. Use it when describing someone or something thing influencing another someone or something. For example:

  • The grade on this exam will affect my entire GPA.
  • How does the crime rate affect hiring levels by local police forces?
  • Your opinions do not affect my decision to move.

Effect is most often used as a noun. It means a change that has occurred or indicates a consequence. For example:

  • What effect did his speech have on the audience?
  • Creepy music in a movie gives the effect that something is about to happen.
  • The special effects in movies today are aided by computers.

Another way to think about it is this: It is appropriate to use the word “effect” if one of these words is used immediately before the words into, on, take, the, an, as well as, or. For example:

  • In analyzing a situation, it is important to take the concepts of cause and effect into consideration.
  • The dramatic play had an effect on the audience.

And if these examples aren’t enough, just remember that when in doubt, look it up!

Katya Rivers is a senior majoring in religion.


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