Effect vs. Affect: What’s the difference?


There are lots of commonly misused words, and no doubt they number in the hundreds or even thousands. However, the most commonly misused words I tend to see are “effect” and “affect.”

Many times, the easiest way to discern the difference between two words is to take a look at their Latin roots. In this case:

Effect comes from the Latin verb effectus, meaning performance or to result.
Affect comes from the Latin verb affectus, meaning influenced or worked upon, and affectus is most commonly used when talking about emotions or feelings.

Make a little more sense now? We use ‘effect’ when we want to say an action directly brought about a change. We use ‘affect’ when we want to say an action influenced a change. To effect something is to result in a change; hence, cause and effect. To affect something is to influence it or to make an impression upon it.

Here are some examples:

– Little Timmy Johansen was not affected by the teacher scraping her nails against the blackboard.

– However, it did have a powerful effect on Susie MacIntosh, who tried plugging her ears with erasers to muffle the noise.

Get it?


Nathan Caldwell is the owner and founder of the Young Writers Society and its group blog, Writing Gooder.

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