Effect or Affect?

Some of you may have noticed what a lousy speller I am and that I occasionaly use a word incorrectly

Here’s a couple thats been confusing me lately.
When is it effect and when is it affect?

Looking for the desired effect. right?

I wonder how adding sugar will affect the recipe? Right.

I get these confused all the time. Anybody else. Any hints or guides on how to keep them straight?

For common usage, effect is a noun and affect is a verb. That’s the easiest mnemonic I know of.

Effect can be a verb and affect a noun, but those uses are pretty uncommon, IME.

Your examples are right. Just remember that “effect” is usually a noun and “affect” is usually a verb.

From here:
" 1. Determine if the usage calls for a verb or a noun.

  1. If a verb is needed, 95 percent of the time or more the word you want is “affect.” It means to change or to alter. “The weather affects our moods.” “Nutrition affects health.” “The seasons affect trees and flowers.” “The quality of your work affects your grade”

3.The occasional need for “effect” as a verb arises when the narrow meaning “to cause or to bring about” is appropriate. These rare occasions often occur in some form of the expression “to effect a change” or, in police jargon, “to effect an arrest” (to cause or make an arrest happen). Nevertheless, it’s still best to avoid, particularly in the last example because it’s simply police jargon, and it’s good to avoid jargon.

  1. When a noun is required, the word is almost always “effect.” This means “a result.”“The effect of diligent study habits is better learning.” “The effect of making the correct choice is a better grade.” (Do you sense a theme here?)

  2. “Affect” can be a noun, but its use is almost entirely reserved for psychological jargon. You could have a long career as a writer and editor and never encounter the need for the noun “affect.”

  3. So be ready to make almost all verbs “affect.”

  4. And be ready to make virtually all nouns “effect.”

And of course the unwritten mnemonic is RAVEN: Rememeber, Affect is a verb and effect is a noun

The other one is Affect = Alter and Effect = End. Basically if you can substitue end the word should be effect and if you can substitute alter then the word should be affect. That’s less obvious but to use the exmaples given above:

“The end of diligent study habits is better learning.” That makes sense, whereas “The alter of diligent study habits is better learning” is meaningless. So the desired word must be effect.

“Nutrition alters health.” That makes sense. "Nutrition ends health.” That might make sense, but it’s not what we mean, so the desired word is affect.

The noun “affect” has the accent on the first syllable.

For the sake of completeness, I’ll just throw out that “affect” also has another use as a verb, meaning “to put on a pretense of”. Both of these come from the OED Second Edition:

Good for if you want to sound Dickensian…

cosmodanm you have it right. And people have given good, sound advice.

But don’t worry about this. Really. Just write what you want, and then hand it over to a professional editor, who will fix everything. I don’t know that you ought to even try this at home. There ought to be warnings on the dictionary.

(Wouldn’t English be a fun language to learn as a second language?

What about the following: “Nutrition has an affect/effect on health.” It’s a noun here, but does not mean result. It means alteration which more closely links it with the verb affect. It’s also not a rare usage by any means.

If you are going to be literate, you are going to have to master the verb “effect” as well. From www.m-w.com:

Don’t dwell so much on the semantics. Doing that is probably one of the things that contributes to all the confusion.

Just focus on the syntax:

effect - noun
affect - verb

The only exceptions are “effect” as a verb meaning “create”, and “affect” as a noun in psychology terminology.

Hey, I think I can remember that. thanks

It does sound impressive. I’ll prepare a sentance and wait patiently for the opportunity to use it. :slight_smile:

??? who’s cosmodanm??

wasn’t your editor handy?? :slight_smile:

I’m talking about just normal day to day writing and posting as well. No editor for that.

In my never-ending quest to out-geek NoClueBoy, I’ll just cite a Star Trek related example of the “Dickensian” use of “affect”. In one ep, Data the droid experiments with the mysterious ways of love, getting entangled with some blonde chick who had never been seen before and was never seen again (c’est la vie). In one scene, he tries to act more appealingly and ends up giving this creepy, over-accented, rather smarmy perrformance, causing her to accuse him of being affected.

Of course, she’s just a stereotypical indecisive clingy high-maintenance bitch, but what you gonna do?

Yup. I work on an inpatient unit, and type up daily summary reports on all the clients. I use ‘Affect’ as a noun alot

The best, and simplest, mnemonic:

ThE Effect

(Yes, I know. But if you actually need to use “the affect,” you’ve already internalized the difference.)

It’s true that “affect” is used as a noun mainly by psychology types, and so it’s probably not the word you’ll be looking for in common speech or writing, but let’s end the suspense here: all it means is a feeling or emotion, as opposed to a thought.

This is good to know when you’re looking for a noun and are not sure whether you want “effect” or “affect”…

The hurricane had a terrible affect/effect on the banana crop.

“Affect,” meaning feeling or emotion, makes no sense here. We want “effect” (result, consequence, as in “cause and effect”).

Here are a couple that have been confusing me lately.


Bryan*, shouldn’t she had said Data was displaying an affectation? Seems it would have been more correct than what she said.

*you won this geek round, fan boy… :dubious:

Well, I don’t remember the exact quote (shame on me), but she definitely accused him of being affected. And then he yelled (!) back “You don’t tell me what to do, you’re not my mother!” thus breaking the “no-contraction rule” for the 75th and 76th time.

[sub]We could hardly believe it ourselves[/sub]