Affect vs. Effect: What’s the Difference?

“Affect” and “effect” are two words that even the most fluent English speakers can regularly get mixed-up. Being homophones (words that sound the same), the confusion is easy to make, especially as there is only one letter difference between them.

The simplest way to differentiate between them is by remembering that one is a verb and the other is a noun, so each has a different purpose when used in sentences. As a verb (an action word), affect means “to impact or cause change.” Effect, on the other hand, is a noun (an object word) that refers to a result or outcome.

Even if you know the definitions, it can still be easy to get confused between the two. So, take some time to read this blog to help understand the difference and when to use them.

What does affect mean?

The verb affect means to produce an effect on (someone or something). 

Examples of affect

Some examples of how affect can be used in a sentence include the following:

  • The test scores will affect your final grade.
  • The fog has affected visibility on the road.
  • The neighbour’s noisy dog will be affecting our sleep.

Affect synonyms 

Sometimes the best way to understand the definition of a word and how to use it is by knowing a few examples of similar words. Here are a few common synonyms for affect:

  • Change
  • Alter
  • Influence
  • Disturb

What does effect mean?

Effect is a noun which means a change that results when something is done or happens.

Examples of effect

Here are some examples of how effect can be used in a sentence:

  • What was the effect of your latest speech?
  • Global warming will have many effects on the planet.
  • Going to the gym will have the effect of making you stronger.

Effect synonyms 

There are many synonyms for effect. Here are the most popular ones:

  • Impact
  • Consequence
  • Repercussion
  • Outcome
  • Ramification

Note that certain synonyms like impact can also be used as verbs (just like affect and effect).

How to remember the difference between affect and effect

Fortunately for those who struggle remembering the difference, there are a few tips and tricks to help.

The RAVEN method

One of the most popular methods to know whether to use affect or effect is the RAVEN technique:

R = Remember

A = Affect is a 

V = Verb

E = Effect is a

N = Noun

Action and end result

Perhaps the quickest method is to look at the first letter of each word: with affect, A stands for action; and with effect, E is for end result

Accident and emergency

Another easy technique is to think of A&E: when you’re Affected by an Accident, the Effect is an Emergency.

Mnemonics like this are useful tools to remember small pieces of information, but this one likely works best in places where the emergency room is known as “A&E”.

Cause and alteration

Another handy trip is to consider some synonyms and related phrases for the words. 

With the common phrase “cause and effect”, you’re referring to the ending result of said cause,so  use “effect.” In this term, “effect” represents the end, as they both start with “e.”

On the other hand, “affect” means that you’re talking about something changing or influencing something else. Because that use of “affect” causes an alteration, you can remember they both start with “a.”

Join our mailing list

Subscribe to our mailing list to stay up to date with our latest news and blog updates.

Affect vs. effect: how to choose the right word

While it can be difficult to always remember the difference between affect and effect, having a few examples in mind and using mnemonic devices to help you decide which is the right one to use.

One important rule of thumb to pay attention to is how, despite being homophones, “affect” is a verb while “effect” is a noun, so they play fundamentally different roles in the English language. 

Now that you know the difference between affect and effect, and you have the tricks in hand to easily distinguish between the two, you can confidently use them in your own writing.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *