Grammar Spot: Affect vs Effect

As a professional writer and content creator, it seemed obvious to me that I should write a few blog pieces about grammar. What may be less obvious to some is why I would want to do such a thing. But, this post isn’t for them. It’s for those of you who enjoy good grammar as much as I do.

Affect or Effect?

A really common stumbling block is knowing the difference between affect and effect, and understanding how to use each word correctly in a sentence.

Although the two words sound the same, they are not interchangeable. So, with that in mind, knowing how to use affect and effect correctly is essential if you want to avoid the shame of bad grammar.

In a nutshell, the main difference is as follows:

Affect is predominantly used a verb. It means to act upon something; to influence it or make a difference to something. Take these following sentence examples:

  • According to recent studies, the crime rate in an area can affect property values.
  • She wouldn’t realise until later how this event would affect her.
  • Certain acids will affect the skin in varying degrees of severity.
  • Thousands of homes were affected by last night’s blackout.

Effect is mainly used as a noun. However, true to form, the English language does like to confuse things. So, effect, in fewer cases, can also be used as a verb.

When used as a noun, effect is the result or consequence of something; something that is produced by an agency or cause. Here are a few examples of effect used as a noun in a sentence:

  • The rising crime rates in the area had an effect on the plummeting house prices.
  • As her vision doubled, it was obvious that the vodka was having an immediate effect.
  • There are many serious long-term effects associated with the drug.
  • The goal had a positive effect on the overall morale of the team.

As a verb, effect means to bring about something as a result. It is mainly reserved for more formal contexts, as in the following examples:

  • The courts effected several important reforms.
  • The manager effected a change in the uniform policy.

A quick grammar reminder:

  • A verb is used to describe an action, a state or an occurrence;  to “do” something – to run, to see, to watch, to use, to have, to affect, to go, to walk, and so on.
  • A noun is used to describe a person, a place or a thing.