These two words are perhaps the most confused and misused in the English language. Without getting bogged down with which is a noun and which is a verb – and the exceptions to the rules – here you’ll find some simple tips to remember the difference between these words and how they should be used in day-to-day language.
To cause a change, provoke an emotion, or take on a change:
- The medicine may affect his behaviour over time.
- His advice affected the way they viewed their policy.
- The bad weather will undoubtedly affect the outcome of the game.
- She was deeply affected by the speech.
- He affected a limp to gain sympathy from his friends.
To result in a change:
- The medicine effected a gradual change in his behaviour.
- His advice effected a change to their policy.
- The outcome of the game was a direct effect of the poor weather.
- The speech was used with great effect to move the crowd to tears.
- His limp did not produce the effect he was looking for.
How to tell if you have it right
Try replacing affect with words like:
Try replacing effect with words like:
If your sentence no longer makes sense, you haven’t used the right word. Try substituting these words in the examples above to see how it works.
Remember: AFFECT = Change / EFFECT = Result of change
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