Grammar 9 min read

Affect vs. Effect: The Easiest way to get it Right, Every Time

Main Affect vs. Effect Takeaways:

  • Both affect and effect can be verbs and nouns
  • Affect is usually a verb that means to change
  • When affect is a noun, it means a type of behavior, disposition, feeling, or emotion
  • Effect is usually a verb that means to cause change
  • When effect is a noun, it means the results of a change
  • Mnemonic devices like RAVEN (remember—affect, verb; effect, noun) can help you remember the difference between these two.
  • Affect and effect are not true homophones, meaning they are not pronounced the same way.

If you’re still not sure whether to use affect or effect in your otherwise perfect sentence, you’re not alone. Let’s quickly break down each point with clear examples and pronunciation guides.

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The Most Common Use for Affect: Verb

Music affects people in different ways.
My aunt’s surprise visit affected my plans last weekend.

The Exception: Affect as a Noun

Daniel always has a brighter affect after his morning cup of coffee.

One of the most confusing things about the English language is that it often uses the same words to mean different things.

How do you keep everything straight? One trick for telling the difference between the noun version of a word and the verb version is the way that each is pronounced.

Affect Pronunciation Guide:

When affect is a verb, emphasize the second syllable = uh-FEKT

When affe\ct is a noun, emphasize the first syllable = AH-fekt

On the left side, the sun shines brightly behind a pink cartoon character wearing sunglasses to show the meaning of the word affect. On the right, the character has a sunburn in the shape of the glasses to show the meaning of the word effect.
Even though “affect” and “effect” are often used interchangeably, there are huge differences in their meaning and function.

The Most Common Use for Effect: Noun

The morning news reported that the Senator’s jobs program had a positive effect on the economy.
Newton’s third law of motion teaches that every action results in an equal and opposite effect.

The Exception: Effect as a Verb

The newly-founded student club pledged to effect positive change in the world.
Effect Pronunciation Guide:

Effect is pronounced the same way whether it’s acting as a verb or noun.

Always emphasize the second syllable = ee-FEKT

Let’s look at a few more examples.

How do you Remember Affect and Effect?

Here are three simple tricks for remembering the difference between affect vs. effect. First, “A” comes before “E in the alphabet. The “A stands for the action that affects and comes before the effect. Second, if you can replace the word with influence, then you should probably use affect. If you can replace the word with result, you should probably use effect. Third, use the RAVEN mnemonic device: remember—affect, verb; effect, noun.

A mnemonic device is a learning technique that makes it easy to remember and recall information. Try using the RAVEN method to remember the common uses of affect and effect.

Affect or Effect? Rely on RAVEN

  • Remember
  • Affect
  • Verb
  • Effect
  • Noun

What is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?

Affect and effect are one of the most mixed-up pairs in the English language. The confusion is due to two main reasons. First, they can sound similar when you say them. On top of that, both effect and affect can function as nouns or verbs. On one hand, affect is usually a verb and means to change or to influence. On the other hand, effect is usually a noun and means the result of a change. In general, affect covers the relationship between behavior and action while effect covers the relationship between change and results.

Think about it this way: Affect and effect sit on opposite sides of a sentence in the roles of cause and outcome.

In a nutshell, if something affects an object, the object experiences the effect of that action. One thing causes the other.
A pink cartoon character sits on the couch watching TV holding popcorn. His smile shows how the movie affects his mood.
What you binge watch on Netflix can affect your mood.

Will it Affect or Effect Me?

In this example, the correct answer is affect. This is because affect is acting as a verb. You can confirm this two ways. First, you can substitute affect with the verb influence and the sentence still makes perfect sense. What’s more, it is the subject of the sentence and, as a result, acting as noun. Since the sentence already has a noun, the noun effect won’t work. Therefore,

Did the Cold Affect of Effect you?

The correct answer is affect. You can be sure because cold the the subject of the sentence. Since the sentence already has a subject and noun, the noun effect won’t work. Instead, the sentence needs a verb to make sense. In this way, affect makes sense here because it is commonly used as a verb that means to influence or change. You can confirm the verb affect is the correct answer this by substituting it with influence and the sentence still makes sense.

Affect vs. Effect as Parts of Speech

The simplest way to navigate affect vs. effect is by using the parts of speech.

Although it isn’t accurate 100% of the time, parts of speech can be a helpful guideline for choosing the correct word.

If the sentence in question requires a verb, affect is probably the word you’re looking for.

If it’s a noun you need, then effect is most likely the right choice.

1. Definitions of Affect When Used as a Verb

1. To influence or act upon something, bringing about a response or change.

The storm affected outdoor events across the Midwest.
If I listen to his advice, it may affect my life in ways I can’t begin to imagine.

2. To feign or put on a pretense.

She affected an air of nonchalance, making her family think she didn’t care.
He always affects a British accent when he gets on stage.

3. To touch someone’s feelings.

News of her hospitalization affected us all.
He was deeply affected by the loss of his job.
A pink cartoon character holds a cake. He prepares to give it to a second character that looks excited. The exchange shows the meaning of the phrase
Surprising your loved one with a cake will surely have a positive “effect” on him/her.

2. The Definition of Effect When Used as a Noun

As a noun, effect means a change that happens as a result of an action.

When they worked as a team, Sam and Jim achieved the effect they desired.
She believed that the cause was much less important than the effect.

Watch out! Exceptions to the Rule

In the English language, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Affect and effect have several less common forms and meanings, and each of those comes with unique rules for usage.

In fact, here’s where affect vs. effect gets tricky and can actually switch places as noun and verb.

1. When Affect is a Noun

When affect is used as a noun, it refers to an emotion or an emotional response.

The boy’s mother worried about his flat affect after the accident.

2. When Effect is a Verb

If affect can be a noun, then surely effect can be a verb. Its meaning in this form is to bring about. More often than not, when effect becomes a verb, it’s paired with words like solutions or change.

Pro Tip: When effect is a verb, it usually appears with the word change

So, do you affect change or effect change? This is where it gets sticky because technically, either word can be used in this scenario, with different meanings. Instead of conveying the idea of bringing about change, affect would mean impacting existing changes.

3. When Affect is an Adjective

Affect can be an adjective, but only you add an -ed. The word affected is the one time affect becomes an adjective, and it can have two distinct meanings.

Affect refers to an action that has to happen for you to get an effect (result).
Don’t be confused. Just remember that “affect” refers to an action that has to happen for you to get an “effect” (result).

1. Influenced by an External Factor

The affected area showed extensive storm damage.

2. Artificial or Designed to Impress

He wanted to believe she was genuine, but her actions appeared affected and unnatural.

4. When to use Affective vs. Effective

The answer is almost always effective. That is unless you’re a psychologist.

Meanings and Examples

Although both words are used as adjectives, effective can be used to mean:

  • Producing the desired effect
  • Impressive
  • Optimal
  • Ready for action
The guidelines become effective after the first of the year.
The school needs a more effective attendance policy to keep students from skipping class.

Affective, on the other hand, can mean:

  • Relating to or expressing emotion
  • Influencing emotions or feelings
She used affective gestures when talking about her child.
Because he suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the winter months always got him down.

The meanings of affective are generally specific to psychology and emotions. That means that most of the time when choosing between affective and effective, the latter is almost always the word you want.

5. How to use Personal Effects

In this commonly used idiom, effects are synonymous with belongings.

Pronunciation Guides: I now Pronounce you Affect and Effect

Although some people consider affect and effect to be homophones, their pronunciation isn’t actually identical. If you listen closely, you’ll hear subtle differences.

True homophones are words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings, such as two, too and to. Affect and effect, when articulated correctly, aren’t the same. Affect is pronounced with more of an “ah” or “uh” sound on the first syllable. Effect has the stronger “eh” sound.

Affect vs. Effect: A Brief Recap

Common Usage: More often than not, if you need a verb, affect is the word you want. If you need a noun, then effect is most likely correct. Remember: Affect commonly means to change, while effect means the result of a change.

Mnemonic Devices: There are several effective mnemonic devices to help in the battle of affect vs. effect. Probably the simplest is RAVEN, which stands for: remember — affect, verb; effect, noun.

Leading with Letters: Pair the letters in affect and effect with letters of common synonyms to remember the meaning. Affect means to alter, while effect means the end result.

Affect vs. Effect Quick Grammar Quiz

Affect Question #1

Which statement is correct?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is C. “Affect” is usually a verb, but it can function as a noun when it refers to a behavior or an attitude.

Effect Question #2

Which statement is correct?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is D. “Effect” is usually a noun, but it can also function as a verb. When acting as a verb, “effect” is usually used with the word “change,” such as in the phrase “to effect change.”

Affect vs. Effect Question #3

“Affect” and “effect” are pronounced exactly the same way.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is FALSE. “Affect” and “effect” are not pronounced the same way. When you pronounce “affect,” you drop your jaw and open your mouth like you do when you say “apple”. When you pronounce “effect,” you do not drop your jaw. Instead, you stretch the sides of your mouth like when you say “email.”

Affected or Effected Question #4

Which sentence is correct?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. In this sentence, “effect” is acting as a verb. One clue is that “effect” appears with “changes,” which is often the case when “effect” is used as a verb.

Affect or Effect in a Sentence Question #5

Which sentence is correct?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. The sentence is about the result of getting too much sun. Since a result is a noun, “effect” is correct as it is functioning as a noun here.

Affect vs. Effect Question #6

Select the correct sentence.
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. “Sun” is the subject of the sentence and is doing the acting. “Me” is receiving that action. So, “affect” is acting as a verb here and is the correct answer.

Affect vs. Effect Question #7

Which sentence is correct?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is A. In this sentence, “affect” is acting as a verb.

Affect vs. Effect Question #8

Which sentence is correct?
Correct! Oops! That's incorrect.

The answer is B. The sentence is about the cat’s attitude. Since “affect” refers to an attitude or behavior when it acts as a noun, the correct answer here is “affect.”

Affect vs. Effect Quiz Result
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Read More: The Most Difficult Words In The English Language

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Krista Grace Morris

Krista heads up Marketing and Content Creation here at INK. From Linguistics and History to puns and memes, she's interested in the systems we create to share our ideas with each other.

Comments (4)
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    Hugo Santos August 25 at 4:10 pm GMT

    Good. I loved it.

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      Krista Grace Morris Author August 26 at 9:21 am GMT

      Thanks, Hugo! This means the world to us! Be safe.

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    جهابذة المحدثين September 07 at 12:20 am GMT

    What is the difference betweem influence and affect?

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      Krista Grace Morris Author September 07 at 9:08 am GMT

      Hi! The verbs “influence” and “affect” are synonyms. You can use them interchangeably. Similarly, the nouns an “effect” and an “influence” are synonyms. You tend to see them in this construction: to have an effect/have an influence on. Hope this helps! Thanks again for reading.

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