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Fun with Words: Effect vs. Affect October 4, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Word Play.
23 comments

Does the effect of choosing between affect and effect affect you in a negative way?

If so, you’re not alone! 

(1) Both words are nouns, and both are verbs, but . . . most of the time affect with an “a” is used as a verb, and effect with an “e” is used as a noun:

* The effect of alcohol affects reaction time.

* The stunning visual effects affected the audience.

* When you affect a situation, you have an effect on it.

(2) As a noun, effect has several common usages:

* The effect of his words stirred us to action.   Here, effect means the result, impact, outcome, or consequence of the speech.

* She used her words to good effect to secure a verdict. ~ advantage 

* The new regulation goes into effect tomorrow. ~ in full force

* The cathedral ceiling created an effect of spaciousness. ~ impression

(3) As a verb, affect means to have an impact on, influence, or produce an effect on.

* The illness affected her heart, causing heart palpitations.  The prescribed medication had no effect on her symptoms.

* The stimulus package affected the economy, but had no effect on my bank balance.

* The rain affected her hair, but had no effect on her mood.

* The speech affected her mood, but had no effect on her hair.

(4) Less common, effect as a verb and affect as a noun:

* The stimulus package effected necessary change. ~ caused it to happen; brought it about

* The officer effected an arrest, and confiscated her personal effects.

* Her flat affect concerned the psychologist.   ~ emotion, facial expression, or demeanor

Has this article effected a change in your vocabulary and affected your ability to use effect and affect to good effect in the future, or has it caused you to adopt a flat affect?

Related articles:  Grammar Girl (Affect vs. Effect) * Grammar Rules (Affect vs. Effect) * Affect and Effect * Affect/Effect * Grammarland: A Lot, Alot, Allot (and Shallot) (My Literary Quest)

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