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Are you looking for the affect or the effect?

Try saying these two words out loud: affect, effect.

They sound very similar don't they? If you said the wrong one in conversation no-one would really notice. However, when written down it makes a world of difference.


The affect is to change or influence something.

Affect is a verb - "to affect" a difference

Examples of this include:

  • The rain forecast today will affect our picnic plans (we can no longer go on a picnic)

  • The lack of time to study will affect the students chances of passing their exams (they have less chance of passing than before)

  • The lack of rain will affect the quality of the crops the farmer can harvest (they will not be as good due to the dry conditions)

Notice how the word affect normally appears in the middle of the sentence.



The effect is the end result of an action.

Effect is a noun - it indicates where a change has occurred. The effect of something having taken place.

Examples of this include:

  • The effect of the rain was widespread flooding (before the rain there was no flood)

  • Going for a run had a positive effect on my mood (before the run I wasn't so happy)

  • Eating healthier food has had an effect on my weight (before I was heavier)


Summary:

Next time you're unsure of the affect or the effect, think:

Affect - will change something

Effect - change has already taken place

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Joanne Reilly

English Academy

 

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