effect vs. affect

A common question and one listed as one of the most common grammar mistakes here. So why shouldn’t I mention it myself?

“Affect” is a verb. Verbs have past tense. “Effect” is a noun. If you can put “the” in front of it, then you will need the noun. You may need to stop and mentally sort these two out when you want to write it. It is a very common mistake, one that makes all the difference to your readers. Some people see it as merely a typo, while other will stop dead in their tracks and try to figure out what is really meant.

To explain further.

Affect meaning “to be influenced by” and

Effect meaning “the end result of”

To take your examples above and rephrase accordingly:

Affect – “The weather affected our trip to the Bahamas.”

I should be able to read it as:

“The weather influenced our trip to the Bahamas.”

Effect – “The effect of your poor grammar skills will be self evident in your readership.”

I should be able to read it as:

“The end result of your poor grammar skills will be self evident in your readership. ”

However, it isn’t that simple I don’t think. Because after looking up the words in the dictionary, effect can be either a noun or a verb. These guidelines appear to be the norm but just in case it is not, this is from my dictionary  application on my mac.

USAGE Affect and effect are both verbs and nouns, but only effect iscommon as a noun, usually meaning ‘a result, consequence, impression, etc.’: : my father’s warnings had no effect on my adventurousness. The nounaffect is restricted almost entirely to psychology (see affect 2 ). As verbs, they are used differently. Affect most commonly means ‘produce an effect on, influence’: : smoking during pregnancy can affect the baby’s development. Affect also means ‘pretend to have or feel (something)’ (see affect 3 ): : she affected a concern for those who had lost their jobs. Effect means ‘bring about’: : the negotiators effected an agreement despite many difficulties.

I know I’m just copying and pasting but part of the reason why I am doing this is because I find it so hard and I would like this as a future reference. Just remember, when in doubt, use a dictionary.

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

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