What is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?

A Study of What the Difference Between Affect and Effect Is

Understanding the difference between affect and effect can be a little difficult. This article looks into the difference between the two terms with the help of some examples.
Penlighten Staff
Last Updated: Mar 15, 2018
Affect is a verb. You can affect a situation or person, or be affected by the same. Effect is a noun. You can suffer from/reel in the effect(s) of a circumstance or event.

This is the prime difference between the two terms of grammar and composition. Affect means 'to influence' a person, object, or situation. Effect is the 'result of an action or circumstance'. These are the literal meanings of the terms, but there are several manners in which these terms can be used. In some cases, one may use the term effect as a verb and affect as a noun. These exceptions will be discussed with the help of some examples below.

Examples Describing 'Affect'
Affect is the influence on an event or person, or may also be described as 'acting on the emotions of'. For instance:
  • I refuse to allow my financial situation to affect my education.
  • Meditating every day will affect your attitude and perception, and change it for the better.
  • Diabetes can affect the function of the kidneys, eyes, and other integral organs of the body.
  • The weather affected me so much that I almost picked up my bag and walked out of the office and did not return for the rest of the day.
  • Ryan remained unaffected by the fact that he had spent all his money trying to look for a book that was, in fact, so cheap.
In very rare cases, affect may be used as a noun. This happens mostly in the world of psychology and psychiatry, and is used to describe a feeling or emotion. For example: Due to lack of affect, she was declared as being emotionally unresponsive.

Again, the use of affect as a noun is very rare and is limited to its use as an emotion. It is not imperative to use this term as a noun, but definitely important that you understand its use as a verb.

Examples Describing 'Effect'
Effect is most often described as the result of affect. Some examples are:
  • The effect of inflation on the common man is evident from the rapid decline in purchasing power.
  • The snowball effect is a term used to describe how a small problem can build upon itself and manifest into a big one over time.
  • The rich golden shades combined with hues of brown created a rich and cozy effect in the bedroom.
  • He stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him, just for the sake of effect (impact).
  • I said I wanted the freedom to make my own choices; not in so many words, but something to that effect. (Here the term 'effect' has been used to describe the general meaning of a term or situation.)
The term 'effect' may also be used as a verb. It is used in order to explain an event that was caused or brought about. For example: The government has effected a new policy that will reduce the dependence of the common man on credit.

A simple way of understanding the difference between the two is to try to replace one for the other in a sentence. For instance:
  • What is the perceived effect of inflation on society?
  • How do you think inflation affects society?
Here, the meaning of the sentence has not changed, but the two terms have been used in their respective forms (noun and verb). Practicing with a few more sentences such as these will help you differentiate the two terms from one another.

Test Your Understanding

To ensure that you have learned the difference between affect and effect, here is a small test for you to take.
  1. Does exercise really affect/effect your mood?
  2. I seem to be suffering from the affect/effect of gobbling down a pizza loaded with cheese.
  3. Large-scale unemployment is the affect/effect of the economic recession.
  4. She was deeply affected/effected by the increase in tax rate recently affected/effected by the government.
  5. What is the affect/effect of alcohol on the senses?
  6. The law regarding the use of cell phones in school will be brought into affect/effect tomorrow.
  7. Do you think his extravagant political campaign will affect/effect the number of votes he will get?
  8. How does education affect/effect society?
  9. What is the affect/effect of education on society?
  10. How do you plan to deal with the affect/effect of piracy on the movie industry?
If you want a tip on deciding what term to use, then consider this: try using the synonyms of the word effect, such as consequence, outcome, or appearance. If the meaning of the statement does not change, it is the right term to use. On the other hand, use the synonym of affect, like to transform, transforming, transformed, transforms. Again, if the meaning of the sentence remains unchanged, you know it is the right term to use. If you have to use the word transformation (noun) instead of to transform (verb), you will know that the word 'effect' is the right word to use.
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