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What’s the Difference Between “Affect” and “Effect”?

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We’ll teach you how to correctly use the words “affect” and “effect,” whether you’re using them as verbs or nouns.

Is it affect or effect?
Many people get these two words confused.
  • Most of the time, affect is used as a verb that means “to cause a change or make a difference to someone or something.”
    • The large meal I had right before that game affected how I played.
  • Effect is mainly used as a noun that means “a result of an action or other cause.”
    • Going to sleep late had an effect on my performance the next day.

“Affect” vs. “Effect”

Technically, affect and effect have different pronunciations. But in everyday speech, these words are said almost identically. You’ll find that reading this article will have an effect on you: it will affect your knowledge of these two words.


How to Properly Use “Affect”

The most common use of affect /əˈfekt/ is as a verb that means “to cause a change or make a difference to someone or something.”

Consistent watering will affect the growth of the plants.

In other words, consistent watering will make a difference to the growth of the plants.


How to Correctly Use “Effect”

Effect /ɪˈfekt/ is often used as a noun that means “a result of an action or other cause.”

Exercising had a positive effect on my self-esteem.

In the example above, better self-esteem is the result or outcome of exercising.

Quick Tip

A lot of the time, will have an effect is a wordy phrase that can be replaced with will affect. Not only can LanguageTool detect wordy phrases like this one and offer more concise alternatives, but this intelligent writing assistant will also make sure you use affect and effect correctly, while checking for spelling and grammar mistakes as you write.


Other Meanings of “Affect” and “Effect”

It’s important to note that affect and effect have other (less common) meanings, and that’s usually where the confusion lies.

Affect has another definition when used as a verb, and it’s “to imitate or put on a false appearance.”

Mrs. Johnson always affects a patient attitude in front of the parents, but she’s short-tempered with the students.

As a noun, affect means “experienced emotion or emotional response.”

Surprisingly, Dr. Daughter noticed no change in his affect after delivering the bad news.

On the other hand, effect can also be used as a verb that means “to cause or accomplish.”

My first goal as the CEO was to effect positive change in company morale.

It’s easy to confuse (to) affect with (to) effect when used as a verb. Remember that an outcome immediately follows the verb effect (in the sentence above, the outcome is positive change).


How to Remember the Difference Between Affect and Effect

To use these two words correctly, remember these two things:

  1. Affect is usually a verb and effect is usually a noun, therefore:
  2. Affects cause effects (ACE).
The "a" in "affect" looks like the running stream of a watering can. The "e" in "effect" looks like the fully-grown plant.
Using your imagination might help to remember the difference between “affect” and “effect.”

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