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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


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.
    • 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 medication will not have an immediate effect.
    • 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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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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