When to use Affect or Effect

You know this situation: you are writing a text and suddenly (in an instant) you can’t remember if you have felt the affect or effect of something. Or did something affect or effect you? Oh no! Don’t worry. Even the best of us make mistakes (errors, typos) sometimes, no matter our field (or native language!). However, this one is easy to fix!


One mistake in English that gives even native speakers an unreasonable (not fair, not logical) amount of trouble is knowing whether to use affect or effect. Almost identical (the same) spellings, a similar pronunciation, and a similar meaning all make these two words kind of tricky (difficult to understand)!


That said, no stress- we’re here to help! Here you’ll find out the reason to use either affect or effect with confidence.




Affect (pronounced like [uh-fekt]) is a verb, which means that it’s an action word. It does something to someone or something; it influences it. A common example sentence I usually see (and think of when I’m stuck myself) is, “Automobiles affect the air.”


In this sentence, the automobiles influence or do something to the air, and, therefore affect it. It caused a reaction, so we use the word affect.


Getting bad news from your boss can affect your mood. Rain can affect your hair. A bit of sunshine on an otherwise cloudy winter day can affect your outlook on the rest of your week.




Effect (pronounced like [ih-fect]) is a noun, which means that it’s a person, place, or thing. In most cases, an effect means “a result.” For example, “The espresso had an effect on her energy!”


The effect is the result of something, or what happens when something is affecting something else, such as the caffeine having an effect on the woman’s energy level.


The noun-verb collocation (words that go together) is “to have an effect on” something or someone.


The rain can have an effect on your mood. You can appreciate (be grateful, thankful for) the sound effects in a movie. You ask the doctor about the side effects of a new medication. Your positive attitude can have a good effect on others.


Why not try coming up with (thinking of, making up) some sample sentences of your own? Taking the time to practice these two words on your own can really affect your language learning ability! (See what I did there?)



Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions about whether you should use affect or effect, and let us know if there are any other grammar points you’d like to see!



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Erin Duffin lives in Berlin, is an English teacher, yoga instructor, and still uses her personal favorite cheat-sentence, ‘The arrows affected the aardvarks’ to know if she should use affect or effect!  Try saying that ten times fast!

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