How to use Affect and Effect – English vocabulary (Video)

Affect VS. Effect

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. Please look at the table below.

Affect is a verb – to produce a change in somebody/something
“My relationship with her did not affect my decision.”
Effect is a noun – a change that somebody/something causes in somebody/something else; a result
“You can’t have a cause without an effect.”

Definitions from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/
affecteffect

Affect VS. Effect

More examples with AFFECT

  • How will the new rules affect you?
  • Countries like Australia will be the worst affected by global warming.

More examples with EFFECT

The president’s new policy will have long-term effects.
My friend really believes in the positive effects of a low carb diet.

Effect is a countable noun so we can use it in the plural form – effects

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 (Third-person singular) and the whole world is the object.

Global warming effects the whole world.

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, feel is a verb and the effects of global warming is the object. (Effects is the plural form of the countable noun effect.)

We will all feel the affects of global warming.

Affect is a verb so this is incorrect. It also doesn’t fit the grammar of this sentence.

Some more tips for using affect and effect.

Remember that the nouneffect” 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.
past (affected)

“Her death affected me very deeply.”

future (will affect)

“The outcome of the election will affect everybody.”

continuous (BE affecting) tense

“This new software is affecting the performance of my laptop.”

past participle (affected)

Affect is a regular verb so it’s 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. Perfect Tense

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 can use the Passive Voice.

The past participle of a verb can also be used as an adjective.

Don’t worry about the rule changes – you’re not affected.

Effect is most commonly used as a noun.
Nouns do not use these forms.

*Effect does have a verb form, that means to make something happen. It is not very common so this post focused only on the noun form.

Idiomatic expressions with EFFECT

Below are some common English Idioms that use the noun effect.

Idiomatic expressions with effect
idioms

Have an effect on

HAVE AN effect on is common expression. It measns to cause a result in someone or something. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/have+an+effect+on 

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.

The following examples are from oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com

Bring into effect/Put into effect

These idioms means 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.

(From next week the new dress code will begin to apply.)

Take effect

​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.)

Conclusion – Affect or Effect

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 are confused. Use what you learned in this post and understand the subject, verb, and object of your sentence. 

You can also use the video below to improve your listening skills. Watch to review the grammar and listen to natural English spoken by a native speaker. Before you watch click this link and join my FREE English newsletter for awesome English PDFs right in your inbox.

I made an infographic explaining the difference between affect and effect many years ago. I tweeted this on my Twitter account and it inspired this blog post. In a longer post, I can give you some more examples.

English vocabulary - Affect VS. Effect
Affect Vs. Effect

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