General Question

emilyrose's avatar

Best rules for affect vs effect?

Asked by emilyrose (2269points) May 28th, 2008

This is one grammar rule I can’t ever seem to remember. Any quick hints that I can memorize that will help me?

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21 Answers

ccatron's avatar

affect – verb
effect -noun

I always say to myself “sound effect” to remind myself of the difference. If you pick one use of the word “effect” or “affect” like I just did and test your use against that, it should help.

wildflower's avatar

I just think of: “Affectionate” or “Effective”. It works for me, but might not have any merit as far as grammatical rules are concerned.
[edit]: This isn’t fool-proof, but could also think affect=introvert, effect=extrovert

Les's avatar

Where’s gailcalled?

marinelife's avatar

If there is an action on something else, you use affect (the verb as ccatron said).

For example, The allergies he was suffering from affected his ability to think clearly.

You can rewrite that sentence using the noun effect, which is the impact of something, this way:

The effect of the allergies was to make his thinking less clear.

pixiequeen12's avatar

You can remember it because Affect is for Actions!

PupnTaco's avatar

Effect = result of an action
Affect = to change or modify

breedmitch's avatar

One affects an effect.

gailcalled's avatar

I’m having a blow-away day. Hanging out with the flowers, birds, sweet smells and my cat.

But let me muddy the waters a little.

Affect is also a noun used to describe one’s personality. I recommend my oldest friend, the dictionary. That affects my affect most of the time. The effect is to make me effectively a know-it-all some of the time.

gailcalled's avatar

PS. I would call the problem one of usage, not grammar.

Bri_L's avatar

I am toast on this one, I can see that right now.

pixiequeen12's avatar

na—you well very rarely use the word “affect” as a noun in spoken english, although gail is entirely correct!

just don’t worry about that if it confuses you!

blueberryme's avatar

I heard a brief podcast on this very subject! I hope it is helpful to you. Grammar Girl (the podcaster) strikes again! :)

Bri_L's avatar

I am going to look this up. My first podcast. Exciting.

jballou's avatar

@pixiequeen12 That depends on how much therapy you may or may not have had. Therapists seem to love that word.

gailcalled's avatar

@Pixie: or what crowd you run with. My friends use “affect” as a noun all the time. Of course, as jballou suggests, we have all been in therapy. But it is a good word.

kfingerman's avatar

For the most part this is right on. Affect-verb/effect-noun. I remember them by their alphabetical order. You have to affect something before you can have had an effect on it. That said, Gail is right. Affect is a noun in some cases, but these are not really confusable. Just think of it as another word related to affectation e.g. “he generally had a cheery affect” (it is, incidentally, accented differently – on the first syllable). Effect can also be a verb as in “to effect change” meaning to cause or create it. This goes beyond the influence of affect to actually having achieved a result. The object of this verb is different. If I said “to affect change” would (somewhat nonsensically) mean that I had influenced the change that already existed. Make sense?

soethe6's avatar

The verb/noun distinction is invalid, as gail has said. The noun “affect” is a synonym for “feeling” or “emotion.” Likewise, there is a verbal form of effect: it means “to cause or bring about.” So if you effect and effect, you bring about an effect. If you effect democracy, you make democracy happen. If you affect and affect, you alter a feeling. It “depends on the crowd you run with” to the extent that the crowd you run with may or may not speak English. I use “special effects” as a reminder. These, I somehow know, are spelled with an E; and they are created effects, effected effects, rather than changed emotions. This may be one of those things you’ve just got to memorize.

janbb's avatar

Clear as mud!

gailcalled's avatar

Very effective explanations, soethe 6. I feel great affection for those who express themselves clearly.

Meribast's avatar

@ccatron actually it’s not so simple. Affect is another word for mood state/liveliness/animatedness and is a noun. As a verb, affect I believe most nearly means to influence.

Effect as a noun most nearly means the result of an action, but can also be a verb meaning most nearly to cause to happen or just “to cause.”

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