Affect vs Effect | Examples, Definition & Quiz

Commonly Confused Words updated on  November 13, 2023 4 min read
“Affect” and “effect” are related words that sound the same (homonyms) but have different grammatical roles.

  • Affect (verb) refers to the act of influencing someone or something and causing it to change.
  • Effect (noun) describes the result of the influence or change itself.

Difference

Rule

The sudden change in weather affected my outdoor plans for the weekend.

The new tax policy will take effect at the beginning of the fiscal year.

The medicine may affect your ability to concentrate.

The director used special effects to create stunning visuals in the movie.

Climate change can severely affect the ecosystems of fragile environments like coral reefs.

The music’s soothing effect helped her relax and fall asleep.

Sometimes, “effect” is used as a verb and “affect” is used as a noun, but this is much less common than the usage described above.

Affect as a verb (most common)

Affect is a transitive verb, which means it’s always used with an object (i.e., the person or thing that’s being affected by the action).

Examples: Affect as a verb

  • His immune system was affected by his new medication.
  • You shouldn’t let his behavior affect you so much.
  • The weather can affect your mood.


Tip
If you don’t know whether you’re using “affect” correctly, you can try to substitute it with a different verb with a similar meaning (such as “change” or “modify”).

If the sentence still makes sense, “affect” is correct.
If the sentence no longer makes sense, you probably want to use “effect.”

Affect to mean pretend

“Affect” can also be used as a verb to refer to someone behaving in an insincere, unnatural, or fake way.

Examples: Affect to mean pretend

  • Though Carol wasn’t interested in her coworker’s story, she affected concern.
  • Keanu affected an American accent for his movie audition.

Affect as a noun (less common)

“Affect” can also be used as a verb to refer to someone behaving in an insincere, unnatural, or fake way.

Examples: Affect to mean pretend

  • Though Carol wasn’t interested in her coworker’s story, she affected concern.
  • Keanu affected an American accent for his movie audition.

Effect as a noun (most common)

“Effect” is usually used as a noun that describes the consequence or result of an action. It’s typically used with an adjective (e.g., “common,” “positive,” “major”) or used as part of a proper noun.

Examples: Effect as a noun

  • We expect a positive effect on our conversion rate.
  • The side effects of the new treatment are still unknown.
  • The Pygmalion effect is also known as the Rosenthal effect.

“Effect” is also used in some common expressions (such as “in effect”) and is related to the adjective “effective.”

Tip
If you don’t know whether you’re using “effect” correctly, you can try to substitute it with a different noun with a similar meaning (such as “result” or “outcome”).

If the sentence still makes sense, “effect” is the correct option.
If the sentence no longer makes sense, you probably want to use “affect.”

Effect as a verb (less common)

“Effect” can also be used as a verb, often followed by the word “change.” In this case, it means “to initiate something or cause something to occur.”

Example: Effect as a verb
The students effected change by organizing major campaigns against sexual harassment on campus.

Effect vs affect quiz

Test your understanding of the difference between “effect” and “affect” by filling in a version of “affect” or “effect” in each sentence.

Do you want to know more about common mistakes, commonly confused words, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


Common mistakes

Commonly confused words

Rhetoric

Whoa or woah

Advisor vs adviser

Metonymy

Theirs or their's

Accept vs except

Synecdoche

Ours or our's

Council vs counsel

Verbal irony

Forty or fourty

Among vs between

Irony

Sence or sense

Anymore vs any more

Grawlix


Frequently asked questions about affect vs effect

Is it side effect or affect?

The correct version is “side effect.” In this instance, “effect” is part of a compound noun and cannot be replaced with another word.

However, in other instances, you can determine whether you should use affect or effect by replacing “effect” with a similar noun (such as “outcome”).

  • If the sentence still makes sense, “effect” is correct.
  • If it doesn’t, you probably mean “affect.”

When in doubt, use QuillBot's free grammar checker to prevent mistakes!

Is it something to that effect or affect?

The correct version is “something to that effect.” In this instance, “effect” is part of an expression and can’t be replaced without changing the meaning of the expression.


However, in other instances, you can determine whether you should use affect or effect by replacing “effect” with a similar noun (such as “outcome”).


  • If the sentence still makes sense, “effect” is correct.
  • If it doesn’t, you probably mean “affect.”

When in doubt, use QuillBot's free grammar checker to prevent mistakes!

What is the affect vs effect trick (to remember the difference)?

Affect and effect are related words, but they are most commonly used as different parts of speech.

You can remember the difference between affect (verb meaning “change”) and effect (noun meaning “outcome”) using the following mnemonic.

  • Affect” and “action” both begin with “a
  • Effect” and “end result” both begin with “e

When in doubt, use QuillBot's free grammar checker to prevent mistakes!

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Julia Merkus

Julia has master's degrees in Linguistics and Language and speech pathology. Her expertise lies in grammar, language and speech disorders, foreign language learning, and child language acquisition.

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