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I've noticed that some people use effect and affect interchangeably. What are the differences between these two and when are the proper situations to use each of them?

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    It's interesting that this is tagged as a homophone, since I personally pronounce, affect as /a'fekt/ whereas I pronounce "effect" as /ɪːfekt/. Of course, this varies widely by region. That is, I have a short "ah" sound in "affect", and a long "ee" sound in "effect". Aug 9, 2010 at 10:00
  • @Vincent I rolled it back, there should be a better tag for these kind of questions. I couldn't come up with anything interesting. Any ideas?
    – Mysterion
    Aug 9, 2010 at 14:20
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    I said it was interesting, not that it was wrong. Homophones very often depend on the accent of the speaker. For instance, on "affect", 99% of people don't use the /a/ sound, but I do. I think homophone is indeed an appropriate tag. Aug 10, 2010 at 0:17
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    Relevant: xkcd.com/326
    – Dan Burton
    May 24, 2011 at 21:30
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    This question is six years old and has several answers that will be useful to visitors. Let's not close it merely because we were less insistent on research in the question six years ago.
    – MetaEd
    Jun 28, 2016 at 16:12

4 Answers 4

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The noun is usually "effect" -- unless in more formal or literary contexts in which case "affect" as a noun can mean feeling or emotion.

The verb is generally "affect", although "effect" is possible if the meaning is "put into place" or "carry out".

Here are some example sentences:

"His plans had no effect on me."

"His disconsolate eyes brought on a sad affect."

"His plans affected me."

"He effected a plan to change the world."

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    +1 for bringing up affect as a noun, fascinating word, hard to get your mind around what it actually means, like reading Heidegger or something: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affect_%28psychology%29 Aug 9, 2010 at 15:27
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    Yep, each word can be used as both a noun and a verb and 3 of the 4 uses are related to the same concept, causation. No wonder people get confused: It's confusing! Nov 4, 2010 at 15:47
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    "His plans had no effect on me." and "His plans affected me." seem like the same sentence, except for whether or not "me" was impacted. I still don't know what to do. Any more help?
    – Jeff
    Mar 14, 2012 at 22:26
  • Jeff - In the first sentence, effect is a noun, in the second sentence, affected is a verb. The sentences effectively have the same meaning.
    – Jay Elston
    Jul 16, 2012 at 17:34
  • I was ready to slam the latest edition of the AP Stylebook for going soft on the distinction between "affect" and "effect", but it's not that simple, see arcticllama.com/blog/writing-tips/grammar/…. Unfortunately, most of my colleagues in the corporate world have given up and just use "affect" for every occasion.
    – RobC
    Jan 21, 2021 at 19:05
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The "common errors" site mentions 3 different meanings for affect (verb):

  • When “affect” is accented on the final syllable (a-FECT), it is usually a verb meaning “have an influence on”:

    “The million-dollar donation from the industrialist did not affect my vote against the Clean Air Act.”

  • to make a display of or deliberately cultivate.
    Occasionally a pretentious person is said to affect an artificial air of sophistication.
    Speaking with a borrowed French accent or ostentatiously wearing a large diamond ear stud might be an affectation.

  • emotion.” (when the word is accented on the first syllable (AFF-ect)).
    In this case the word is used mostly by psychiatrists and social scientists—people who normally know how to spell it.

[…]

When you affect a situation, you have an effect on it.

Less common is a verb meaning “to create” (to cause to come into being):

“I’m trying to effect a change in the way we purchase widgets.”

Merriam-Webster details:

The verb effect goes beyond mere influence; it refers to actual achievement of a final result.

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    Now I think I am even more confused!
    – jp2code
    Jun 14, 2011 at 20:03
  • So I think an easy to use rule is: If it is a think (noun) or means 'to create', then use "effect", else use "affect". Anyone comments from the experts out there?
    – Jeff
    Mar 14, 2012 at 22:36
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The rule that mostly works it this: affect = verb, think "a" for action, wheras effect = noun, the result of the action

to remember: "a" comes before "e" in the alphabet, and you must affect something to cause an effect

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    Unfortunately, there is both a noun and a verb 'affect' and a noun and a verb 'effect'!
    – jbeldock
    Jan 30, 2014 at 7:00
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Here’s a quick informal technique for you: If it is not easy for you to remember that that the word “affect” is most commonly used as a verb while “effect” is usually used as a noun, then label this confusion as “aven.” It sounds like amen. The “av” in aven should make you recall affect as verb and the “en” is effect as noun.

Source: A Snappy Guide to Differentiating “Affect” and “Effect”

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