Effect and Affect

Posted: February 3rd, 2014, 2:07 pm   By: brittany.corners

Little things affect little minds—Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister

Boom Roasted! In addition to serving us with a right proper burn from the colonial motherland, Big Ben has also demonstrated a valuable lesson in the correct usage of an important word. No matter the size of their minds, writers often make the mistake of confusing effect and affect. Although both words are nearly homophones, they convey different meanings. To complicate matters, each word has multiple definitions as well. This might seem more difficult than getting a jury to acquit Jerry Sandusky, but it’s really not that tough to keep effect and affect straight. Let’s take a look at their most common meanings:


Effect

  1. A change resulting from a cause
  2. Example: Surprisingly, Rod Blagojevich’s peacocking did not have a positive effect on his trial verdict.

  3. The lighting, sounds or imagery in entertainment productions
  4. Example: The orgy of special effects in the Battleship trailer lets you remain confident that this movie will suck…also, Rihanna’s in it.

  5. A personal belonging
  6. Example: The people on Hoarders sure do love their personal effects.

Affect

  1. To have an effect on
  2. Example: Adderall doesn’t affect me, because I abuse cocaine.

  3. To pretend to feel or have something, often in order to make an impression on others
  4. Example: Madonna affected a British accent, because she wanted to seem interesting.

A Tip to Tell the Difference

What’s an easy way to remember how to keep our affect and effect straight? Like the proud corporate titans of our ramshackle economy, we’re going to outsource this question. According to Grammar Girl, “The majority of the time you use affect with an a as a verb and effect with an e as a noun.” Review the definitions above and follow this rule, and you’ll be pleased with the effect on your writing.