Do You Want to Affect an Effect or Effect an Affect?

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Some words are tricky – not least words that can be either nouns or verbs, and have different meanings, and even different spellings, whilst sounding the same when spoken out loud. Affect and effect cause all sorts of trouble for a lot of writers.

So, is it affect or effect?

“Affect” is usually used as a verb, meaning “to act upon” – The rain affected his mood.

“Effect” is usually used as a noun, meaning “something produced by a cause” – The rain had an effect on his mood.

But sometimes “affect” is a noun, a term from psychology meaning an observed emotional response – The patient showed a flat affect, a total lack of emotion, even in the rain.

And sometimes “effect” is a verb, meaning “to make happen” – He effected a perfect three-point turn, in spite of the rain.

And don’t confuse the adjectives “effective” and “affective” – “effective” means “producing the intended result” – His umbrella was effective – but “affective” means “causing emotion” – His poem about the rain was intensely powerful and affective.

So next time you want to effect an affective piece of writing, don’t forget that your grammar affects the effective achievement of your effect.

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