You’re writing an important document for work. Or maybe you’re a parent writing a note to a teacher. You want to say something to the “effect of.” But is it affect? Your school-age grammar lessons in the back of your mind are telling you there’s a difference –affect vs. effect. But what is it?
How Do You Remember Affect and Effect?
Both are tricky words which take just a little bit of practice to remember how to use correctly. But I have an easy way that helps me remember the differences between the two.
Take the first letter, a in affect and remember that it means change, which has an a in the middle. Affect is a verb and change is a verb (action). Effect begins with an e, of course. It means result, which also has an e in it. Effect is usually a noun, as is result. An easy test is that you can stick the word the in front of both and it makes sense or belongs. Of course, English has a few exceptions to the rule, but you’ll cover the vast majority of correct usages with this simple trick.
Will it Affect Me or Effect Me?
I know these differences are subtle. Many of us have to consciously practice them. One of the best ways to do so is to write sentences, inserting your name in them, using the words correctly. Practicing this way becomes personal to you, and the correct usage will stick in your mind better.
The effect [insert name] had on the group lead to a fantastic result. OR My choice is going to affect my friends and cause change.
Notice how affect has to in front of it, a sure indicator it’s a verb. Effect, on the other hand, has the in front of it, a sure sign it’s a noun.
Like this post? I have another one just like it if you’re stumped with family’s vs. families’. Read it here.
Affect vs Effect Trick
Now that you know this simple way to remember the differences between these two similar words, go ahead and teach someone else. Or at least note the difference whenever you see it used incorrectly, which happens a lot. And if you want to use the above reminder image at home or the office for a bit, go ahead and print it. Click here. It’s easier to spot than a sticky note and will help you to sharpen your grammar skills.
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Maybe I'm Dumb says
I tend to remember it as affect being similar to cause and as such A comes before E (Affects lead to Effects).
Though I had a lot of arguments with teachers in school for oversimplifing it but really I think they just didn’t fully know the answer because I’ve yet to see a correct use of affect thet isn’t a cause.
I use the simple examples too. Here’s the subtle difference: to “effect changes” means to create changes. To “affect changes” means to modify or influence changes already made. So the simple explanation is a good rule of thumb but isn’t entirely correct, as your teachers undoubtedly explained.