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Super Quick Grammar: Affect vs. Effect

affect effectI’ve seen it three or four times in the last week – mix-ups of “affect” and “effect.” So, since little things like that drive the editor in me crazy, here’s a quick grammar lesson on what the words mean and how to correctly use them.

The basics: In everyday language, “affect” is a verb that most commonly means to influence something. For example, “The storms will affect whether the tennis team plays its match.” “Effect,” on the other hand, is normally used as a noun that shows an outcome – the result of something happening. “She began to feel better when the medicine took effect.”

Of course, like many words in the English language, both affect and effect can have other meanings and be used as other parts of speech. “Affect” can be used as a noun to describe facial expression. (“She affected a blank expression.”) “Effect” might sometimes take on verb form. (“The new principal effected some positive changes in the school.”)

I won’t drag on about other nuances and possible uses. If you’d like to read more, check out this info from Dictionary.com, Grammar Girl, or Vocabulary.com.

A trick: And, as Vocabulary.com suggests, one way to keep “affect” and “effect” straight is to remember that “affect” comes first alphabetically, and an action (to affect) has to occur before you can have a result (an effect).

Your turn: What words do you often see getting mixed up (either by you or by other people)? Let’s straighten them out!

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