• Affect vs. Effect

    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?

  • That vs. Which

    Photo credit: Daniel Silliman on Flickr
    Photo Credit: Flickr
    Since my last grammar post, I’ve had several requests for more.

    I love talking to people about grammar, so I’m happy to help. Our lesson for today is when to use that versus when to use which. Like the rules for using between and among, this lesson should be pretty simple – or, at least, that’s what I’m hoping.

    Basically, which can usually be taken out while that is necessary to preserve the meaning of the sentence.

    Consider the following example:
    Wine that is imported from France is expensive.

    Is all wine expensive? No, just wine imported from France (as far as this sentence is concerned). Therefore, that is the best choice to maintain the integrity of the sentence. If we take out the word that and replace it with which, the whole meaning of the sentence is changed. Check it out:

    Wine, which is imported from France, is expensive.
    Not all wine is imported from France, so this sentence doesn’t make much sense.

    Here’s another one:
    Plants, which generate energy through photosynthesis, need a certain amount of sunlight to survive.
    Since all plants utilize photosynthesis, the word that fits best.

    This post is short, but hopefully helpful! Just like everything else in life, remember that practice makes perfect when it comes to grammar.

    Do you ever get confused with that and which? Did you find this post helpful? What other grammar concepts would you like to see covered?
  • Between vs. Among

    Photo credit: Gwydion M. Williams on Flickr
    Photo Credit: Flickr

    I haven’t talked much about English grammar rules on this blog. It’s time for that to change,

    As writers, good knowledge of grammar can only help you in your writing projects. I always assume that everyone has the same grasp of basic grammar rules as I do, but you know what they say about assuming things.

    When I was in high school, a woman named Mrs. Landreth taught me everything I know about grammar. In fact, I still refer to the notebook I kept in her class. Not everyone has a Mrs. Landreth. I guess that’s where I come in.

    One of the easiest grammar lessons I can teach you is the difference between (ha) the words between and among.

    You should use the word between when referring to two subjects. For instance: Mr. Brown lives between Mr. Pink and Mrs. Gray.

    In contrast, you should use the word among when three or more different subjects are concerned. For example: “Always shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

    Pretty simple, right?

    What do you think of this little grammar lesson? What other grammar questions would you like to see answered?

    Tweet tweet:

    When should you use “between”? What about “among”? Writer @thecollegenov has the answer. (Click to tweet)