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Affect or effect?

19 May

Welcome to the first of my weekly mini-posts on troublesome pairs of words.  Keep on suggesting new pairs on the comments to my original post!

So, today it’s affect and effect.

Quite a simple one – if you AFFECT something, it means you have an EFFECT on it.

Well, not quite that simple …

Affect is (mainly) a verb, which means “to have an effect on”, or to “make a difference to.”  Effect is used mainly as a noun, the difference that is created when something is affected.  It’s an end result or consequence.

Although you can also “Effect a change in something”, this is a different verb used in a different way.  And an affect is also used in other senses, such as to denote pretending or as a precise term in psychology, but we won’t worry too much about those uses, as they’re not the ones that tend to get mixed up.

Examples:

Bill’s injury affected his ability to play in the team, and had a bad effect on the team’s morale.

Bill affected the morale of the team when he got injured.  The effect was to make them play less well.

I will affect the balance of this blog between grammar and opinions when I post all these mini-posts.

When used in combination with another drug, this drug can affect the side-effects in a positive way.

The effect of the water on the runner was marvellous; he perked up immediately.

Sarah effected a change in the way the meetings were structured.

Thanks as usual to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary and New Hart’s Rules for helping back me up!

 
 

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5 responses to “Affect or effect?

  1. Jan Carr

    May 27, 2011 at 10:32 am

    Good choice for your first post on the pairs theme. This is a pair that gets mis-used regularly even in the media, or should that be especially in the media?

    Two words that get muddled often and which always surprises me, while not perhaps a true pair, is loan and lend. An accountant generally does not confuse these words but borrowers frequently do.

    Like

     
    • libroediting

      May 27, 2011 at 10:34 am

      Thanks Jan! I’m going to have to do one on “pedal” and “peddle” too, which does seem astonishing to me!

      Like

       
  2. Diane (Inver)

    May 27, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    These are two I always have to think about when I am writing…thanks Liz.

    Like

     
    • libroediting

      May 27, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Thanks, Diane – really good to know I am actually helping people with these!

      Like

       

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