Affect vs. Effect: How to Choose the Right Word

When it comes to words, knowing which word to use can be confusing—affect or effect. This can be especially difficult for those whose first language is not English. However, with a little help, it is easy to remember the difference between these two words and use them correctly.

Generally, we use affect as a verb (an action word) and effect as a noun (an object word). The verb affect means “to act on; produce a change in” as in, “The cold weather affected the crops.” (The cold weather produced a change in the crops.) The verb affect can also mean “to impress the mind or move the feelings of,” as in “The music deeply affected him.” (The music changed his feelings or thoughts). If you can substitute affect with another verb, you are using the right word: “The cold weather damaged the crop.” “The music deeply moved him.”

So, choose affect when you want to use a word to express a change or describe an action. Effect is most commonly used as a noun, meaning “result” or “consequence.” One way to decide if effect is the correct word is to replace it with another noun. For example, “His sunburn was an effect of exposure to the sun.” Another way to say it is, “His sunburn was a result of exposure to the sun.”

There is one trick to help you use the right word in almost every case: the word RAVEN: R = Remember A = Affect is a V = Verb E = Effect is an N = Noun

Here is another way to remember when to use affect and effect:

A is for action (affect); E is for end result (effect). But to fully understand a word’s meaning, it helps to see it in action. Let us review some grammar rules that regulate affect and effect with some tips and examples.

Affect is almost always used as a verb to influence someone or something, rather than cause something. Affect can be used as a noun in one particular situation: when referring to a display of emotion. Effect is most often used as a noun. It points toward an event  

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