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English Grammar


The difference between 'affect' and 'effect'.

Many people are confused about the difference between affect and effect.
Before going any further, remember that “affect” is almost always a verb, whereas “effect” is more commonly used as a noun.

Affect and effect are used as follows :
  • AFFECT :
    Affect is most often used as a verb meaning ‘to have an impact’, ‘to change’ or 'to alter'.
    • Nutrition affects our health.
    • The problem with the export of cereals is affecting many countries.
    • His attitude affected the atmosphere in the office.
    • Severe flooding affected many regions.
    • The snow storm affected air traffic.
    • Public protests did not affect the government's decision.
    • Thousands of people will be affected by the proposed changes.
    • Living in such a dark place affected his eyesight.

    Affect also has another, less-used, meaning: ‘to put on a false show of’ or 'to pretend':

    • She affected indifference although she was very upset.
      (= she pretended that she did not care)
  • EFFECT :
    Effect is most often used as a noun meaning ‘a result’, ‘a consequence’ or ‘an influence’.
    The expression ‘have an effect on’ is often used.
    • His words produced the desired effect.
    • Her warning had no effect on the children.
    • The effect on the economy was disastrous.
    • The arrival of the puppy had a happy effect on my father.
    • The medication will not have an immediate effect.
    • The restrictions have had little effect on their determination.
    • The President's intervention had a great effect on the morale of the troops.
    • Music often has a soothing effect on people.

    Effect can also be used as a verb meaning ‘to bring about’, ‘to make something happen' or 'to put into operation'.
    The use of effect as a verb is usually found in formal contexts.
    • The firm effected  the transition to computerised accounting last month.
    • The bank was requested to effect  the transfer of funds immediately.

    Effects [plural] can also mean 'personal property or possessions'.
    •  Personal effects should be packed separately.
In most everyday contexts it is safe to remember that 'to affect' =  'to have an effect on'.
Affect is related to action whereas effect is related to consequence or result.

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