Grammar 101: Affect vs. Effect

Updated Nov 18, 2022

Grammar 101: Affect vs. Effect

The words “affect” and “effect” are easily and frequently confused by thousands worldwide, and when this happens, it can be a problem.

They are usually confused due to how similar they are in spelling and pronunciation and, of course, the fact that there’s an exception to the rule.

The truth is, learning the difference is more straightforward than most people think.

We’ll teach you to know the difference!

Affect vs. Effect

Whether you want to improve your writing to write effectively or better your English in general, you need to know the difference between affect and effect.

To understand the difference between “affect” and “effect”, you should know what each of them means.

What Does Affect Mean?

Affect is a verb that means “to influence or produce a change in.”

When someone asks, “what affects your work productivity?” they ask what influences or impacts your productivity.

In this way, affect is a word that can be used interchangeably with effect.

However, the meaning of effect can be slightly different depending on the context. For example, affect is also used as a noun in psychology, meaning an emotion or other feeling.

E.g., “she was unable to show much affect after she learned the news.”

What Does Effect Mean?

Effect is a noun that refers to an influence that causes a change. Effects are also outcomes that result from a cause.

Effects can be good or bad. Examples of good effects are an increase in revenue and a decrease in costs. In contrast, examples of bad effects are a drop in revenue and an increase in costs.

It is worth noting that the word effect is a broad term. It is a subset of the broader term outcome, which also includes the results of good and bad effects.

The term effect is often used in the phrase “the effect of,” which means “the result of.” Examples of the use of the phrase “the effect of” include “the effect of sinus infection is that it causes headaches” and “the effect of having a lot of social media friends is that it can lead to social isolation.”

Effect is also used as a verb. As a verb, effect means to bring about or cause. So, to “effect,” something is a verb that means to bring about or cause. For example, “The manager effected a change in the company’s policy.”

What Is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?

Affect is a verb related to emotion or feelings. For example, you can say, “the rain affected her mood.”

Effect is a noun that means result or consequence. So, for example, you can say, “the effect was that she was late.”

When To Use “Affect”?

Affect is a verb that means to influence or to produce an effect. It is similar in meaning to effect but is usually used in reference to emotions.

So, for example, if you want to know how something will affect you, you ask how it will make you feel.

When To Use “Effect”?

Effect is a noun, and it means an impact. It is also used to reference something that is done to accomplish something. Here is an example of the noun, effect, used in a sentence.

“The effect of the medication was that it made the pain go away.”

In addition, it is also a verb used to describe the act of making something happen.


Now that you know the definitions and examples of affect and effect, let’s recap to solidify your new knowledge:

Affect or Effect?

Affect means to influence. Effect means the result.

The following sentence uses “affect” correctly:

“The new policy will affect our ability to meet our goals.”

The following sentence uses “effect” correctly:

“The new policy will have the effect of reducing our expenses.”

So, in essence, affect is a verb meaning “to have an effect on.” Effect is a noun meaning “the result of an action.”

E.g., “My bad behavior affected my grades.

The effect of my bad behavior was a lower GPA.”

When in doubt, look it up!


Affect is also used in psychology to refer to the expression of emotions. So, if you want to know how something will affect you, you ask how it will make you feel. This is because the word affect is often used as a synonym for emotion; it is sometimes used as a noun.

When used as a noun, effect can mean “result, outcome, or consequence” or refer to something designed to create an illusion, such as a special effect in a film or play.

However, effect is also a verb that means to bring about or accomplish. So, for example, you can say, “he effected many changes.”

The Conclusion on Affect vs. Effect

One thing to remember about affect vs. effect is that affect is a verb, and effect is usually a noun. It’s also true that both words are used a lot in everyday English, so it is even more important to know exactly how to use them correctly.

One way to remember the difference is to think of it this way: from the word “effect” comes “etc.”, which reminds you that it is a noun. From the word “affect” comes “act”, which reminds you that it is a verb.

Works Cited:

How to improve your writing. Rephrasely. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2022, from

20 important questions to consider when writing an essay. Rephrasely. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2022, from

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Affect definition & meaning. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from (n.d.). Effect definition & meaning. Retrieved November 21, 2022, from

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