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Effect vs affect

Effect vs affect

Effect vs affect, change, examples, rules

By Zak Hall - English Grammar

So often in English, mistakes are made by both native speakers and learners of the language because many words sound the same. This has never been truer than with the case of “effect” and “affect”.

However, using these words improperly can cause huge misunderstandings when writing in English. It is important to know the difference between these two so that you can be assured that you are conveying a message correctly.

It may seem impossible to see where the difference is between these words. You might think that it’s not important as they sound the same anyway.

This is certainly not the case.


effect vs affect


It is imperative to use these two forms in the correct way, particularly when writing. In formal writing, even the smallest mistake can lead people to believe that you are unprofessional or unqualified for the task at hand.

Let’s look at both of the words with supporting examples to assist your comprehension.


The key information here, “Effect” is a noun. The effects of something are the consequences of an action.

For example: One effect of global warming is that the icecaps are melting.

It is important to remember that “effect” can never be used as a verb. It does not exert influence on something but rather it is the final product of the influence.

Here are some other examples:

If you want to have an effect the government, you should run for office.

The effects of the earthquake were devastating to the local community.

The experiment studied the effects of humans on the local environment.

Got the idea? Great! Now let’s move onto the very similar sounding “Affect”.


Most importantly here, “affect” is a verb. To affect something means that you perform an action that makes something else happen.

For example: The referee affected the game with his bad decisions.

This means that he changed the game. Without the referee there to affect the game, those results would not have happened. “Affect” can never be used as a noun and is always used as a verb.

Here are some examples, we will look at the same instances as above so that you can see the difference:

If you want to affect the government, you should run for office.

The earthquake affected the local community in a devastating way.

The experiment studied the way in which humans affected the local environment.

A good way to remember this is that if you AFFECT something you get EFFECTS as results.

If you can get this mantra to stick in your head, you will begin to automatically correct yourself.

Be sure to practice this.

One useful way to practice is by doing exactly as we have done above. Write a sentence that contains “effects” and then write the same sentence, but change it round so that you use “affect” as part of the sentence.

This will help to cement the information in your mind.

In speech, of course, it is easy to be lazy with these two words. Whilst you don’t have to be worried about pronunciation, it is always useful to note when you are using “affect” and when you are using “effect”.

When you hear yourself using one of these constructions, just make a mental note of which you are using so that you don’t lose the good habits that you have worked so hard to build.