The English words Affect and Effect are easy to confuse. Their spelling is similar and their meanings both relate to change. It’s easy for me to see as a teacher why these words often get used incorrectly. They are different kinds of words, one is a verb and the other is a noun. They are used with different kinds of grammar.
Affect is most often used as a verb that means: to produce a change in somebody/something
“My relationship with her did not AFFECT my decision.”
Effect is most often used as a noun that means: a result
“You can’t have a cause without an EFFECT.”
Learn more about these confusing words and some different ways to use them. You will also find some common Idioms with EFFECT, a helpful video, and an AFFECT and EFFECT quiz PDF that you can download for free.
Affect Vs Effect
Affect is most commonly used as a verb while effect is most often used as a noun. Please look at the following definitions.
Affect – verb – to produce a change in somebody/something
- Coastal towns were the most affected by the tsunami.
The verb affect is commonly used with adverbs like greatly or dramatically
- Wildlife in that area we’re greatly affected by the heavy rain and flooding.
Affect Word Origin:
late Middle English: from French affecter or Latin affectare ‘aim at’, frequentative of afficere ‘work on, influence’, from ad- ‘at, to’ + facere ‘do’. The original sense was ‘like, love’, hence ‘(like to) use, assume, etc.’.
The word affect can be used as a noun to mean a visual clue of an emotion that someone is feeling.
- Ryan received the bad news with little affect. I think he expected it.
(There was no clue that he was upset by the news.)
Effect – noun – a change that somebody/something causes in somebody/something else; a result
- Regular exercise has many positive effects on your health and well-being.
The noun effect is commonly used with adjectives like dramatic or far-reaching.
- The president’s decision will have a far-reaching effect on the country’s economy.
Effect Word Origin:
late Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin effectus, from efficere ‘accomplish’, from ex- ‘out, thoroughly’ + facere ‘do, make’. Sense (3), ‘personal belongings’, arose from the obsolete sense ‘something acquired on completion of an action’.
Effect has a verb form that means – to make something happen
The verb form of effect is formal and not very common.
- The new governor hopes to effect change in his state.
|Affect (verb) to produce a change in somebody/something|
|“My relationship with her did not affect my decision.”|
|Effect (noun) a change that somebody/something causes in somebody/something else; a result|
|“You can’t have a cause without an effect.”|
More examples with AFFECT
- How will the new rules affect you?
- Countries like Australia will be the worst affected by global warming and rising sea levels.
- The Bali government said the ban on sex outside marriage will not affect tourists.
- Shorter days during the winter can affect people’s moods.
More examples with EFFECT
- The president’s new policy will have a long-term effect.
- My friend says his new low-carb diet is having a positive effect on his health.
- Many believe the new tax law will have a ripple effect on the economy.
- The school’s new dress code policy will take effect on February 1st.
Effect is a countable noun so we can use it in the plural form – effects
- The president’s new policy will have long-term effects.
- My friend really believes in the positive effects of a low carb diet.
Using AFFECT and EFFECT – guide
In a basic English sentence, we write subject verb object. Please look at the following example sentence-
- “Global warming affects the whole world.”
In this sentence global warming is the subject, affects is the verb and the whole world is the object.
effects the whole world.-X Incorrect
Effect is a noun so this is incorrect. It doesn’t fit the grammar of this sentence.
- “We will all feel the effects of global warming.”
In this sentence we is the subject, will feel is a verb and the effects of global warming is the object.
X-We will all feel the
affects of global warming. -X Incorrect
Affect is a verb so this is incorrect. It doesn’t fit the grammar of this sentence.
More Tips For Using Affect And Effect Correctly
Remember that the noun “effect” often will follow an article (“an effect,” “the effect”) or an adjective (“negative effect,” “positive effect”). [Verbs do not follow articles or adjectives.]
- “Rising oil prices will have an effect on nearly everyone.”
- “Getting enough sleep has a positive effect on your health.”
Affect is a verb so you will hear it used in its different tenses.
– “Her death affected me very deeply.”
future (will affect)
– “The outcome of the election will affect everybody.”
continuous (BE affecting)
– “This new software is affecting the performance of my laptop.”
Affect is a regular verb so its past participle will be the same as its past tense (affected)
The past participle will be used in the Perfect Tense:
- “COVID-19 has affected everyone, some more than others.”
The Perfect Tense is HAVE/HAS plus the past participle. We use it to describe new information or an action that is related to now. You can read my full Perfect Tense post here: How to use the Present Perfect Tense (25 Real Examples + PDF)
The past participle is also used with the Passive Voice:
- “My laptop performance was not affected by the software update.”
Passive voice uses the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were) plus the past participle form of the verb in the main action. If the subject of our sentence gets or receives something – something happens to the subject of our sentence – we use the Passive Voice. You can read my full Passive voice post here: Learn the Passive Voice with 20 REAL examples (Free PDF)
The past participle of a verb can also be used as an adjective.
- “Don’t worry about the rule changes-you’re not affected.”
I have written a helpful post on correctly using The Past Participle English grammar. You can read my full Past Participle post here: Use Past Participles The Right Way (25 examples + PDF list)
Effect is most commonly used as a noun. Nouns of course do not use verb conjugations.
FAQ – Affected Vs. Effected
A few of my students have asked me the difference between affected and effected. Here is a quick answer.
The adjective affected means changed or influenced by something.
- After the hurricane, relief was quickly flown into the affected area.
Effected is the past participle of the verb effect. The past participle of a verb is often used as an adjective, so effected is possible as an adjective. The verb form of effect is rare so the past participle is almost never used.
- No example. [It is so rare that I couldn’t find an example while researching this blog post!]
Idiomatic expressions with EFFECT
Below are some common English Idioms that use the noun effect.
HAVE AN effect on
HAVE AN effect on is a common expression. It means to cause a result in someone or something. SOURCE
- The theme song from “Titanic” song has a strong effect on some people. My wife cries every time she hears it.
- I’m sure COVID-19 will have an effect on voter turnout.
Bring into effect/Put into effect
These idioms mean to cause something to come into use
- The new dress code at my office will be put into effect next week. I have to wear a tie every day now!
(This is often used in the Passive Voice. PUT is the past participle of the verb TO PUT.)
Come Into Effect
to come into use; to begin to apply
- The new dress code at my office comes into effect next week.
to start to produce the results that are intended
- After the medicine takes effect my headache should go away.
To No Effect
not producing the result you intend or hope for
- I warned my friend not to jump off the high rocks but to no effect.
(My friend jumped off the ricks anyway, my warning didn’t stop him.)
Affect Vs Effect Quiz
Download the Quiz as a printable PDF worksheet. Great for teachers to use with private or group classes. ↓
Affect Vs Effect Conclusion
There are different ways to use each of these words. Both words can be used as verbs, effect is mostly used as a noun, and affected can be an adjective.
But if you use my basic guide it’s easy to understand when these 2 words should be used. Use what you learned in this post and understand the subject, verb, and object of your sentence.
You can also use the video in this post to improve your listening skills. Watch to review the grammar and listen to natural English spoken by a native speaker.
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