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Affect vs. Effect

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Photo credit: Sharon on Flickr.
Photo Credit: Flickr

I got another request for a grammar lesson.

This time, I'll be covering the difference between affect and effect. I'll try to keep it simple.

Affect is most often used as a verb. It means "to influence" or "to act in some disingenuous way." For example:

The average rainfall affects how much the plants will grow.

When asked about her husband's murder, she affected grief.

Effect, on the other hand, most often makes an appearance as a noun. You can think of it as another word for "result." Consider the following:

The sun's ultraviolet radiation can have several negative effects on your skin.

Sometimes, however, the rules for affect and effect can change (Isn't grammar maddening?). Although affect is usually a verb, it can be used as a noun when talking about psychology because you can never truly understand what another human being is feeling; only how they seem to be feeling. For instance:

She showed a frustrated affect.

Likewise, the word effect can sometimes manifest as a verb. In this case, you can interpret it to mean "to bring about" or "to cause." Check out this sentence:

The seminar effected donations for the local food pantry.

Grammar is confusing. There are so many rules and exceptions that sometimes it all feels overwhelming. That's why I want to help.

How do you remember the difference between these two? What other grammar topics do you struggle with?

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