Affect or Effect?

Affect and effect cause a great deal of confusion because the spellings are so similar. My advice about them might surprise you: don’t use affect at all.

Affect is a vague word that tells your readers nothing:

The new zoning law will affect the value of our property.  VAGUE

Will your property be worth more…or less? “Affect” doesn’t tell you.

The new zoning law will lower the value of our property.  BETTER

The new zoning law will increase the value of our property.  BETTER

What about effect? It means “a result.” Here’s a trick: Try inserting the in your sentence and see if it works. If it does, chances are you have the right spelling.

We hired a consultant to help us explore the effects of the school proposal.  CORRECT

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2 thoughts on “Affect or Effect?

  1. AvatarDarrell Turner

    This is a good lesson, Jean. I tell students who know the basics of grammar that “affect” is a verb, and “effect” is a noun. I then give this example: The medicine affected me and had a side effect.

  2. Avatarballroomdancer Post author

    Your sentence is a great device for keeping them straight!
    I would add a reminder not to use “affect” in your writing. The medicine helped you, or the side effects were miserable, and so on. I’ve rarely seen a sentence where “affect” was useful.

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