‘Affect’ Vs ‘Effect’: Breaking Down the Difference

Affect vs Effect

“Effect” is a noun, while “affect” is a verb. It is the difference between the end result and the action to achieve that end result. You can use either of these depending on how you frame the sentence. 

To make this distinction clearer, we will be covering the definitions of the terms along with various nuances about their usage. We will end with some examples and a tip on how to remember the difference when you want to use them.

Also see: Is it ever OK to end a sentence with a preposition?

Effect meaning

A change/result/consequence of an action or event. It is considered a noun.

E.g., Working out has a positive effect on our mental health.

Affect meaning

To have an effect on something. It is a verb

E.g., Working out affects our mental health positively.

Hence, as you can see from the example above, it is the same thing as ‘effect’ but used differently in a sentence because of its nature as a verb.

Noun vs verbs: Nouns tend to be the subject or object of verbs, while verbs are words that describe acts, conditions, or relationships between objects. It all comes down to how you frame the sentence. Related: Check how to write and speak in third person.

Affected vs Effected

Affected vs effected

While affected implies the same as what affect does (having an effect on something), effected means that something was brought about- here, it becomes a verb. 

E.g., Adam effected the policy to reduce poverty.

Hence, what we’re trying to say here is that Adam brought about a policy. Note that “effected” is not commonly used. 

Are there exceptions?

Words can be used differently in different contexts. “Affect” as a noun can also imply an emotional response, typically used in social sciences. E.g., positive affect is experienced when a child spends time with their caregiver. 

This is not a common usage either, outside of the social science context, so people may misunderstand you when used in daily conversations. It’s better to use “emotion” instead.

Is it effect or affect a person?

It is affect a person. “Effect a person” would be wrong because it cannot be used as a verb. 

E.g., Humidity in LA affects a person badly enough for them to not want to come out of their homes.

Will it affect me or effect me?

Same as the previous example, affect me is the correct option here because it is being used as a verb. 

E.g., Will it affect me if it rains today? Probably not, because I drive to work.

Examples

  1. Verb: The insects affected the crops quite badly this time around.
    • Noun: The effect of insects on the cops was quite bad this time around.
  1. Verb: Drugs affect our long-term health negatively.
    • Noun: The effect of drugs on our long-term health is negative.
  1. Verb: Spacing out the study time affects exam performance.
    • Noun: The effect of spacing out the study time is felt during exam performance
  1. Verb: The recession this time will affect the portfolio poorly.
    • Noun: The poor effect of the recession this time will be felt on the portfolio.
  1. Verb: The new features of smartphones have affected our daily convenience positively.
    • Noun: The new features of smartphones have had a positive effect on our daily convenience.
Know the difference between affect and effect

How to remember the difference?

“Affect” starts with an A, which also implies an action. Similarly, “effect” starts with an E, which also implies an end result. So whenever you’re writing a sentence where you need to use either of these, recall this association, and you’ll be good to go!

Conclusion

We hope you have a good idea of the distinction by now. We have covered the definitions, the difference between affected and effected, exceptions, sentence usage, examples, and a tip on remembering the difference between these two.

If you’re intending to write a speech, do check out this article for some amazing tips.

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