Affect Vs. Effect: A Grammar Lesson

Effect vs. Affect

This is not one of my bigger grammar blunders, BUT I just saw some recent online grammar statistics that suggest that this is one of the most common grammar errors that people make when writing. So the big grammar lesson for the day: Is it Affect or Effect?

If you’ve been through the U.S. school system, you have learned at some point that there are dozens of grammatical rules BUT there are also a lot of grammatical exceptions. Almost every rule has one – an exception that is. And this grammar lesson is no different, but for once, I’m saying 99% of the time if you follow the basic rules for effect versus affect – you will get it “write” every time:)

Affect with an A is typically used as a VERB.
Definitions: have an effect on. make a difference to. move emotionally. attack or infect (with an illness).

Example: “That delicious chocolate martini affected the way I felt in the morning!”
Example: “Did it affect you when he asked for the engagement ring back?”

*Okay here is an exception. Many psychologists use “affect” as a noun to describe a client’s emotion, desire, or influencing behavior. But if you aren’t in the mental health biz, you’ll probably never use it in this way.

Effect with an E is typically used as a NOUN.
Definitions: a change that is the result or consequence of an action or other cause. use to refer to the state of being or becoming operative. a physical phenomena. an impression produced in the mind of a person. (effects) the lighting, sound or scenery used in a play, movie, or broadcast. personal belongings.

Example: “I love the effect that the delicious chocolate martini gave me after I drank it.”
Example: “I think he was going for a dramatic effect when he asked for the ring back in the supermarket!”

*Another exception? Yep. This is how you could use effect as a verb.
Definition: (often be effected) cause something to happen; bring about

Example: Budget cuts that were quietly effected over four years.

Again – most people don’t really use effect in this way, so don’t stress over it. You will probably most often use affect as a verb and effect as a noun.

Check out some of my other grammar tips before you write that next article!

Resource I like: English Grammar For Dummies

Related Websites


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