Word Usage: Affect and Effect
Just what is the difference between affect and effect? These two words are
homonyms—words that sound alike but have different meanings. In this case, only one letter sets
To add to the confusion, both words can function as a noun or a verb. Knowing when to use each in a
particular sentence can be a challenge.
Let's take a closer look at them in this word usage tip.
Affect is most commonly used as a verb and effect is most commonly used as a noun.
affect (verb): to act on or to influence
Drug A affected symptom severity.
effect (noun): an outcome, influence, or
Drug B has no effect on glucose levels.
Sometimes, however, affect is used as a noun and effect as a verb. These uses are far
less common than those described above.
affect (noun): a feeling or emotion (primarily in psychology)
The participant showed an unusual affect in response to the photo.
effect (verb): to bring about or to cause
The treatment effected a change in lung function.
Quick Tips: Affect vs Effect
A person or object acts on (affects) something.
Try the following memory aid for affect as a verb and effect as a noun:
A person or object causes an event (an effect).
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. 11th ed. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc.; 2007.
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