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Response to A-Schwarzenegger (Reply #123)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 01:39 AM

134. It can. I have an article on my grammar & usage site

about the difference between "effect" and "affect":
"Learn the Difference Between AFFECT and EFFECT"
http://grammartips.homestead.com/affect.html

To save you the trouble of going to my site, I will post the whole short article here. The second to last paragraph explains the situations when "effect" is a verb and "affect" is a noun. Those occasions are relatively unusual in modern American usage, so most people should probably just use "effect" as a noun and "affect" as a verb. Only people who are very confident about the words should use them in those less common ways.

Confusion between the words "affect" and "effect" is so common that I almost never see either of the words used correctly. Since I read anything that doesn't move fast enough to get away from me, and since I read hundreds of essays by college students each semester, I have reason to believe that this error is not just a misspelling, but an actual misapprehension of the two words and how they are used.

Generally speaking, "affect" is a verb and "effect" is a noun. When you affect something, you produce an effect on it. Even in the passive voice, something would be affected, not effected.

There are certain situations where "effect" is used as a verb and situations where "affect" is used as a noun, but very few people ever have a need to use them thus, so unless you are already confident of your ability to use these words correctly, just treat as general the rule that "effect" is a noun and "affect" a verb.

If you feel the need to get fancy, however, here are the meanings of "effect" as a verb and "affect" as a noun. As a verb, "effect" means to execute, produce, or accomplish something; as a noun, "affect" is used primarily by psychologists to refer to feelings and desires as factors in thought or conduct.

If you find that you have sometimes made the mistake of switching these two troublesome words, you probably should proofread specifically for them until you have formed the habit of using them correctly without having to think about it.


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