‘Affect’ or ‘effect’?

Affect and effect are different in meaning, though frequently confused. Affect is chiefly used as a verb and its main meaning is ‘to influence or make a difference to’, as in the following example sentences:

the pay increase will greatly affect their lifestyle

the dampness began to affect my health

the weather will affect my plans for the weekend

Effect, on the other hand, is used both as a noun and a verb, although is more commonly used as a noun.  As a noun it means ‘a result or an influence’, as in:

move the cursor until you get the effect you want

The beneficial effects of exercise are well documented

over time the effect of loud music can damage your hearing

When used as a verb effect means ‘to bring something about as a result’. It’s most often used in a formal context as oppose to everyday English:

growth in the economy can only be effected by stringent economic controls

the new policies did little to effect change

the prime minister effected many policy changes

The key thing to remember is that effect is most commonly used as a noun, whereas affect is typically used as a verb.


Read more about affect and effect on the OxfordWords blog.

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