One of the Categories in Akademia is the Common Errors Category. There, there are several posts dedicated to explaining words in English that users find confusing. This particular post, Affect vs Effect: Meaning, Usage and Examples, falls under the category of commonly confused words. Most of the words in English have similar sounds, spellings but different meanings, see Homonyms.
Homophones are words with same sounds but different spellings and meanings while others have same spellings, different meanings and sounds and we refer to them as Homographs. Without a proper understanding of Parts of Speech in English, there will always be a confusion when dealing with these similar or related words.
Affect vs Effect: Meaning, Usage and Examples
In this post, we will take a look at ‘Affect’ and ‘Effect’ as a pair in the long list of closely related words which have the tendency to confuse their users. We will start by defining each one, then we will explain how we use each word with illustrative examples for proper comprehension. Shall we begin?
Affect vs Effect: Meaning
This is both a verb and a noun. As a Verb, it means to produce a change in or influence something; it also means to have an effect upon, influence, bear on, bear upon, impact, touch, touch on, alter, change, modify, etc.
Let us get some examples:
- Will the new rules affect me?
- The dog’s death will affect his owners.
- You must not allow peer pressure affect your studies.
- Lack of money usually affects people’s mood.
It also means to act physically on or have an effect upon, as in:
- The medicine affects his heart rate.
- The cold weather affected his voice.
- The drought affected the crops’ yield.
As a noun, it means the conscious subjective aspect of feeling or emotion; it also means a feeling.
As a noun, Effect refers to a phenomenon that follows and is caused by some previous phenomenon. For instance:
- The magnetic effect was greater when the rod was lengthwise.
It means: consequence, event, issue, outcome, result, upshot, etc.
It is also an event that means a change that occurred. Example:
- The new speed limit law had little effect on the speed of the motorists.
Usually, in the plural, effect also means movable property or goods as in:
- He came to pick his personal effects after he was sacked.
- I have nothing in his room except my personal effect.
Effect also means ‘the quality or state of being operative’ that is, what is operational. E. g.
- The law goes into effect next week.
- The anti-Open Grazing Bill is in effect in many states.
As a verb, Effect means ‘to produce’ as in:
- The scientists effect a shock wave.
Other meanings include: effectuate, set up, cause, do, engender, make, accelerate, accomplish, carry out, carry through, draw, execute, fulfil, get, hasten, induce, precipitate, rush, serve, speed up, stimulate, etc. We also use this word to mean ‘act so as to bring into existence’ as in:
- There is a need to effect a change in the cabinet.
- We cannot effect the transfer now
- There must be a stakeholders’ meeting if government must effect the new tax law.
What causes confusion is that both Affect and Effect have very similar pronunciations and closely related meanings. If one thing affects (acts upon) another, it has an effect on it (causes it to change). Note that you can affect (cause a change in) people as well as things, but you can only effect (bring about) things such as changes. For example:
- The election has affected our entire society, for it has effected major changes in the government.
- The bad weather has a bad effect [not affect] on him.
Effect is also used in some phrasal expressions like:
In effect means ‘in substance’ or virtually. It indicates that what someone said represents the truth of the matter, even though the words may be other than what other people would choose. For example:
- The Committee agreed to what was in effect.
- In effect, this means that the program is shut down.
To the effect/to that effect
This phrase means ‘with the meaning’ or an indication of approximately the same meaning as in:
- He issued a statement to the effect that he would resign.
- She objected and replied to that effect the next day.
- The answer was “No” – or words to that effect.
There are some universally accepted and commonly used words with effect in which they become an adjectival Phrase like the following:
- Bohr effect
- Domino effect
- Edge effect
- Greenhouse effect
- Hall effect
- Halo effect
- Placebo effect
- Ripple effect
- Side effect
- Skin effect
I hope you have learnt something substantial in this post. Recommend these other posts to your friends and family: