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liminal's avatar

Do you know a good trick for remembering the difference between effect and affect?

Asked by liminal (7761points) March 14th, 2010

I recently engaged in an interaction where I am pretty convinced I kept getting the words confused.

Grammar Girl suggests this: http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/affect-versus-effect.aspx

How about you, any simple explanation or mnemonic that may help me out?

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19 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

An effect is a thing. What the action did.

Affect is an action. A is for action, E is for the action’s end.

iphigeneia's avatar

I remember that effect is the noun by thinking of ‘special effects’, which leaves affect to be the verb.

Trillian's avatar

What you say will have no effect on me.
How can I affect a change in my community?
I wish I had one. I just know that special effects is a noun, and to affect is a verb.

rovdog's avatar

Wow I feel like someone just randomly told me a trick for this… but I don’t remember it. So strange you asked this question…

Megan64's avatar

Trouble is affect can also be a thing, but what @wundayatta said is the best way to think of it most of the time.

elenuial's avatar

Perhaps to confuse you, one’s affect can still be a noun if you’re talking about their representation of their emotional state.

Still, I use this to remember it: Someone’s affect will show upset if I bite them, therefore I had an affect on them.

I really really doubt this will help, but it’s a process I go through on the occasional moments of doubt about this usage.

jaytkay's avatar

@johnpowell TheOatmeal.com rocks so hard it makes my teeth hurt!

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

To me,

Effect is from non living objects… like cause and effect.

Affect is from living beings… like affectionate.

davidbetterman's avatar

You effect change.
Change affects you.

john65pennington's avatar

Sound effects are loud.

I have a great affection for you.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@davidbetterman

I would completely reverse what you just said.

You affect a change upon this, that, or the other. The you is what makes it affective, affectionate. Affection cannot come from mindless change.

But a mindless change can effect you. Simple cause and effect, no mind required.

davidbetterman's avatar

But a mindless change can effect you.

Sorry @RealEyesRealizeRealLies The correct usage would be, But a mindless change can affect you.

Effecting a change means to bring about change. Affecting change means to make the change something different, to alter the course of the change. so both are correct depending on the context.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m still having problems following your lead.

Do you disagree with my determination of affect being a mindful property, and effect being a mindless property?

In this way, a mindful affect can “alter the course of the change” that was otherwise a mindless effect.

tb1570's avatar

Simple: affect is a verb, effect is a noun. ie “Her speech affected me greatly” or “Her speech had a great effect on me.”

susanc's avatar

No. Both can be either nouns or verbs. Look back into the thread for proof.
I think the best thing is to read a lot of books. Novels, detective stories, books about politics, books about history. Read complicated newspaper stories too. You’ll begin to get a sense of it in about two years. And maybe other things too. Bonus.

margot23annie's avatar

Learn to pronounce the words differently, as you learn the suggestions above. If you say them the same you will never remember. Long E on effect, soft A on affect. Also, accent on syllables makes spelling and meaning more clear.” Affect” with accent on first syllable is a noun, second is a verb. “Effect” with accents the same is a noun, stress on second is a verb.

tb1570's avatar

@susanc Whatever. Follow my simple statement and you’d be correct 98% of the time. To use affect as a noun you’d probably have to be studying or speaking about psychology; to use effect as a verb it’s almost always within the the context of “effecting change.” Otherwise, follow the simple rule stated above. Follow my simple rule and even you could get the hang of it—- in a year or two. And by that time maybe you’d better learn how to have productive discourse with other humans.

margot23annie's avatar

What the heck? Sniping? Geez—petty.

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