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Affect and effect

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By Mary Morel

The easiest way to distinguish between affect and effect is to think of affect as a verb (doing word) and effect as a noun (naming word). Unfortunately, there are a couple of exceptions.

affect

Affect means to influence.

The weather affected the outcome of the Grand Prix.

Affect is usually a verb.

Occasionally affect is a noun when used in a psychological context to mean feeling or emotion.

effect

Effect means result or outcome. It is usually a noun.

The effect was dramatic.

Occasionally effect is used as a verb, meaning to cause or bring about a result.

To effect a sale.

affect and effect

The thunderstorm affected my mood, but I used an umbrella so the rain had no effect on my hair-do.

Because many people confuse affect and effect, some people use impact instead of effect.

The storm affected my mood, but I used an umbrella so the rain had no impact on my hair-do.

A memory jog

Grammar Girl suggests thinking of a raven to help you remember the difference. Raven has the letters AVEN in it, which stand for affect-verb-effect-noun.

Learn more

100 Commonly Confused Words (A$19.95) covers 99 more commonly confused words.

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