Affect vs Effect

What’s the difference between affect and effect? 

English learners and native speakers alike get these words mixed up, myself included. So, let’s practice. 

affect and effect

Affect = verb
1. to make a difference 
Ex: Warm weather affects how many drinks we sell. 
Ex: The heavy rain affected my garden really badly. 

2. to touch you emotionally
Ex: That movie affects people. A lot of viewers cried.
Ex: This class really affected me. I’m SO motivated. 

3. to pretend to have or feel something
Ex: Rebecca suddenly affected a British accent after going there once. 
Ex: Even though he was panicking inside, Ian affected a sense of calm. 

Effect = noun
1. a change / a result
Ex: Higher drink sales is one effect of warm weather.
Ex: Dark spots on your skin are the effect of too much sun. 

2. makeup, lighting, CG, etc. in movies
Ex: The special effects in the first Jurassic Park were so good.
Ex: I didn’t really like the effects in Star Wars: the Phantom Menace. 

3. personal belongings
Ex: Campers are not allowed personal effects in the dining hall.
Ex: Do not leave personal effects unattended.

So, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. Seems simple right? So, why do people mix these two words up? 
The spelling and pronunciation are similar, but another reason is that sometimes affect can be a noun, and effect can be a verb. The good news is, this isn’t common.

“Affect” is only used as a noun in psychology where it means “emotion or desire”. 

Verb: cause something to happen
Ex: Tax increases were effected slowly over the past year.

Other Uses / Expressions 

affected = adjective
1. influenced by something 
Ex: Put lotion on the affected part of your skin. 
Ex: There was a blackout, and the affected area still doesn’t have power. 

2. fake, pretentious, trying to impress 
Ex: I hate the way Bill speaks with that affected London accent. He’s from New Jersey! 
Ex: The head teacher’s affected attitude of superiority scared most students. 

affectation = noun
artificial / trying to impress 
Ex: The way he spoke was an affectation that he hoped would impress people.
Ex: She called the little room a gallery, but that was just an affectation. 

Now it’s your turn!

1. Climate change _____ everyone on earth. 

2. One side _____ of this medicine is that it makes you sleepy. 

3. Getting a puppy really _____ my dad. He fell in love with it. 

4. Please collect your personal _____ before exiting the plane.

5. I got a bad sunburn. I have to put lotion on the _____ skin. 

6. It’s a fun movie but the _____ look fake. 

7. Don’t try to sound smart by changing your voice. That’s just an _____. 

8. Do you think the Queen’s voice is _____? Or is that really how she talks?

9. We want to _____ children’s lives by providing free education. 

10. The government _____ changes rapidly in response to the disaster. 

Highlight the space below to see the answers.
1. affects  2. effect  3. affected  4. effects  5. affected  6. effects  7. affectation  8. affected  9. affect  10. effected

Like this post? Did I forget something? Let me know!   

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