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When to Use Affect vs. Effect

Affect vs. effect: what’s the difference?

How do you use affect and effect? Here’s a pro (Grammarflex) tip to aide your memory—it’s as easy as remembering that affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

See what I did there? The letters in bold, (i.e., those that altogether spell RAVEN), stands for ‘remember, affect is a verb and effect is a noun‘.

Since we know the proper word class, learning their correct use is simply a matter of connecting the dots. But first, let’s consult the dictionary definitions for “affect” and “effect“, and see some examples of them in sentences, (for illustrative purposes).

The meaning of ‘affect’ vs. ‘effect’

Examples with “affect”Examples with “effect”
I see how social media affects people, especially in their consumer behaviour.The results show a statistically significant effect.

  • Affect [transitive verb] means, “to have an impact on (someone or something)“, or something capable of “producing change“. Affect can also describe being moved or touched emotionally.

  • Effect is a noun that refers to an outcome, end result or change that someone/something else causes; as we see in the term, ‘cause and effect‘. The Britannica Dictionary describes effect as, “a change that results when something is done or happens”.

Other forms of the word ‘affect’

part of speechword form
affect [verb]How much a student studies will affect their grade point average.
affect [noun]The young man’s facial expressions had a humorous affect.
affected [adjective]He speaks in a rather affected voice.
affectedly [adverb]She laughed affectedly.
affectation [noun]His little affectations irritated her.

Forms of the word ‘effect’

part of speechused in a sentence
effect [noun]What are the long-term effects of this treatment?
effect [verb]These drugs can sometimes effect miraculous cures.
effective [adjective]Aspirin is a simple but highly effective treatment.
effectively [adverb]You dealt with the situation very effectively.

“Affect” used in sentences

Sentences with the verb affect
An early frost in Florida can affect the orange crop negatively.

Smoking tobacco can permanently affect your lungs, and leads to cancer.

Raising the minimum wage affects many people living in poverty.

The couple was trying not to let their emotions affect their decision on whether to sell their house or not.

Sentences with affected
The music deeply affected him.

The cold weather affected the crops.

College graduates were affected by the temporary contract workers flooding the job market.

Effect” used in sentences

Sentences with the noun effect
We have to give the changes time to take effect.

The  prescribed medication had a positive effect on the patient’s symptoms.

The effects of climate change can be felt worldwide.

A good night’s sleep has a positive effect on your day.

Are there  exceptions?

Though both words have verb and noun forms, effect is mostly a noun, and affect, a verb.

  • The noun affect refers to a person’s demeanour, or their facial expressions, also known as their affectation. As in, “The young man’s facial expressions had a strange affect.”

Note that affectation carries a slightly negative connotation, and means “speech or conduct not natural to oneself : an unnatural form of behavior meant especially to impress others”; e.g., “her affect remained the same despite everyone around her being in despair“. ‍

  • The verb effect will typically follow the preposition, ‘to; i.e., to effect change”, which is to “cause (something) to happen; or bring about.” The plural form, effects, can refer to “special effects,” in a movie or film.

A pro tip! (to remember the difference)

A mnemonic (to the rescue!) Affect is a verb, which describes an action. A is for = Action. Effect describes an End Result = E (effect) is for End result.

In case the mnemonic mentioned earlier wasn’t enough: Another quick tip on how to remember which words is correct is to think of the acronym or word RAVEN: R = Remember A = Affect is a V = Verb; E = Effect is a N = Noun

If the above mentioned fail, another easy way to identify which is the correct word in the sentence is to note that when the word effect is used as a noun, it almost always follows these words: the, any, an, into, on, take, or. The verb affect does not follow the above words in a sentence.

Origin of the word effect/affect

The word effect derives from the Old French, effet,”execution or completion (of an act).” The word affect derives from the Latin, affectus, meaning “disposition, mood, state of mind or body produced by some external influence.” Its noun form also derives from the same Latin word.

Synonyms for affect

  • impact
  • impress
  • influence
  • guide
  • sway
  • touch
  • alter
  • change
  • modify

Synonyms for effect

  • result
  • consequence
  • upshot
  • outcome
  • conclusion
  • reaction
  • end result

Phrases with ‘effect’

  • ‍after-effect
  • butterfly effect
  • domino effect
  • Doppler effect 
  • greenhouse effect
  • knock-on 
  • network effect 
  • ripple effect 
  • side effect

Lesson in review: affect and effect

If you’re describing an action, choose affect. If you’re describing the outcome or result of an event or decision, choose effect.

Read about other commonly confused words

Commonly misused wordsUK English vs. US English
former vs. latterburned or burnt?
bear with vs. bare withcolor or colour?
breathe or breathfavorite vs. favourite
compliment vs. complementsmelled or smelt?
assure or ensure?gray or grey?
elude or alludefavor vs. favour
it’s or itsanalyze or analyse?


  1. Origin of affect


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