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effect or affect... confused? You are not alone!

The words effect and affect are perhaps two of the most confused words in the English language. Oxford Dictionary Online reports that the most-searched word each month is ‘affect’. So if you have struggled with these words in the past, you are certainly not alone!

Interestingly, the words themselves actually have entirely different meanings and functions…

Effect’ usually functions as a noun:

‘You will be banned from the tournament with immediate effect in this context effect is a noun, the state of something being in effect.

‘Being banned from the tournament had a terrible effect on your results’

So a good definition for the word effect would be a ‘state’ or a ‘result’. But when used as a verb it means to ‘cause’.

Affect’ with an A, means to ‘have influence upon…’

For example:

‘Listening to loud music for a prolonged period will affect your hearing’

Affect can also mean to behave in a way that you don’t feel; or better, to influence your persona.

‘He affected an air of authority’

The two words are pronounced almost identically: they are almost homophones.

When you are unsure of whether to use ‘effect’ or ‘affect’ try to emphasise the initial vowel in your mind, with careful practice of the definitions this should help you select the correct word.

Always think carefully what it is you’re trying to say.

I hope this blog has affected your understanding of these tricky words.

Has it had any effect at all? Let me know in the comments below.


10 Mar 2013
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