These two words are commonly confused - probably due in part to the fact that both words have more than one meaning. I will explain clearly the main difference and just briefly mention the other (rare) meanings: Affect (a-FECT): This is usually a verb (doing word) and the form most commonly confused with `effect`. It means `to influence` or `to cause a change`. For example:

  • John's protest affected great change in the farming industry (John's protest caused change to happen).
  • The noise outside affected my performance.

Effect (e-FECT): This is usually a noun (thing) and it refers to the `end result` or the impact something has on someone or something. For example:

  • `the cocaine had a numbing effect`,
  • `her smile had a strange effect on me`

For those who are curious, affect (AFF-ect) means `emotion` but this meaning is used almost exclusively by psychiatrists. And just to further confuse the whole thing, `effect` can also mean `to create` - which is probably the reason that many people confuse it with affect (a-FECT). For example:

  • `I am trying to effect a new council in the city`.
  • But wait, there's more: something can `take effect`, but it cannot `take affect`.

Confused` No wonder. Here is a simple way to remember the basic rule: If it's something you're going to do, use `affect.` If it's something you've already done, use `effect.`


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