I understand the differences between affect and effect, and generally when to use them. However, in some cases while reading I have seen authors use the phrase "effect a change" (among others) meaning, I think, to cause a change, or to bring about a change. Using "affect a change" seems wrong/awkward; so is this acceptable use?

  • No, "affect a change" is an error.
    – tchrist
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 14:46
  • 1
    @tchrist I'd say many people affect change more often than they effect it ;)
    – Jon Hanna
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 15:20

1 Answer 1


You effect a change when you cause the change to occur. When you are the one to bring the change about.

You affect a change when you change the change. When the change is already there and you influence it.

  • It would be interesting to test whether people who speak a dialect which doesn't distinguish between /ɪˈfɛkt/ and /əˈfɛkt/ are more likely to confuse them. Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 16:41
  • Here in the Bible Belt, they are often pronounced the same. That's not the worst, though. People say "are" for "our" and "ole" for "oil"/"bowl" for "boil", and it figuratively kills me.
    – TylerH
    Commented Feb 4, 2014 at 18:25

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