Affect and effect are two of the most commonly confused words in English, probably because they can be used as nouns and verbs, with almost similar meanings. This article takes a closer look at the two words to bring out their subtle but important differences to help clear the confusion.
Meaning and Usage:
The word affect is typically used as a verb to describe how something influences or changes another thing. But it can also be used as a noun, especially in psychology, to describe a person’s emotional state or behavior. For example, “The rainy weather affected my mood,” or “Her affect was flat and emotionless.”
On the other hand, effect is usually used as a noun to describe the result or outcome of an action or event. It can also be used as a verb to mean “to bring about” or “to cause.” For example, “The effect of the new policy was to increase productivity,” or “The manager effected a change in the company’s direction.”
While affect and effect are similar in meaning, the main difference between them is that affect is usually used as a verb, while effect is usually used as a noun. This difference in grammatical function can be confusing, especially for non-native speakers of English.
They become even more confusing when used as verbs. But remember that while the verb affect means to change or make a difference, the verb effect means to cause or bring about.
Here are some examples of how to use affect and effect in sentences:
- The pandemic has affected many people’s daily lives. (verb)
- Shallow affect is one of the characteristic, nay defining features of psychopaths—they feel little emotion, if at all. (noun)
- The new law will have a significant effect on the economy. (noun)
- The scientists hope to effect a breakthrough in their research. (verb)
To understand the difference between affect and effect, it is important to understand their grammatical functions. Affect is usually used as a transitive verb, meaning that it needs an object to complete the sentence. For example, “The rain affected my mood” is a complete sentence because the verb affected has an object, my mood.
In psychology, affect, as a noun, refers to the emotional state or response of a person.
Effect, on the other hand, is usually used as a noun and does not require an object to complete the sentence. For example, “The new policy had a positive effect” is a complete sentence because the noun effect does not need an object to make sense.
However, effect can also be used as a transitive verb, meaning that it can take an object. In this case, it means “to carry out” or “to achieve.” For example, “The manager effected a change in the company’s direction” is a complete sentence because the verb effected has an object, a change in the company’s direction.