Affect / Effect – which is which?

These words cause all kinds of trouble … and I’m sure the average person who spells them incorrectly doesn’t know that there are two spellings, and that they have different meanings. As with all grammar and spelling, you need to *learn* how to write the words, then practice, practice, practice!

So … how can you tell when to use either of these words? It seems so confusing … let’s see if we can make it easy to understand.

  • Affect is the action.
  • Effect is the result of the action.

Example 1:

“The internet start-up company I worked for failed – how will that affect me?” [meaning, “What is the action which will happen because of this? Will I be able to find more work?”

“The effect [result] will be that I no longer have a job …”

Again, you need to think about this *before* you write it, you need to practice until you start to understand the difference.

Example 2:

“Louise was affected by the move to a new city; it made her feel lonely for her friends. The effect [result] it had on her was that she was forced to join the community group to meet new people, and over time, she made many new friends.”

It might not seem straightforward nor easy to understand, but this is one of those times when you just have to learn the difference between affect and effect.


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