Usage Tip: Effect/affect

There are so many words that are spelled similarly to each other and therefore frequently get mixed up in writing. One of the most common pairs of these words is effect and affect. And while most writers usually know the difference between them, sometimes these words still get confused.

Simply put, usually, effect is a noun and affect is a verb. For example,

This change will have a positive effect.

This change will affect everyone.

Of course, it’s not all that simple, and sometimes, effect can also be a verb, when it means “to put something into effect.” For example,

The activists wanted to effect change.

And less commonly, affect can also be a noun, when it refers to a person’s facial expressions or body language that demonstrates their emotions. For example,

The teacher’s affect showed she wasn’t pleased.

It can definitely be confusing that there are so many variations of the same or similar words. Alas, that’s English.

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