August 24, 2011

Wednesday words of “Whiz”dom # 1: Affect vs. Effect

When you fill out your applications, you want to make every effort to write with correct grammar, usage, punctuation and capitalization.  Be sure to proofread everything, including the fill-ins and short answers!

Over the course of the next few months, the College Essay Whiz will give you tips on avoiding common pitfalls in these areas.  We are going to start with two words that are often confused with each other:  affect and effect.

Generally speaking, affect is a verb and effect is a noun.  Usually, the verb “affect” means “to influence.” “Effect” is the noun form meaning “the influence” or “the result of an action.”

The economic crisis may affect (verb) the outcome of the election.
The effect (noun) is being felt nationwide.
My personal trainer is trying to affect (verb) my attitude toward exercise.
His efforts are having a positive effect (noun) on my exercise regimen.

So when you affect a situation, you have an effect on it!

There are a few other meanings of the word “effect.”

  •  As a verb, “effect” means “to accomplish” or “to produce a result.”
    It is often used with the words “change” or “solution.”

Our principal was determined to effect a change in policy regarding student use of cell phones in the school building.”

  •  Personal “effects” are your belongings; films often have special “effects.”

An unusual meaning of the verb form of “affect” is “to cultivate or make a display of.” A person might affect the manners and accents of British royalty, for instance.

As a noun, “affect” is a psychological term referring to emotions as elements of the thinking process or behavior.  This word is pronounced AFF-ect (with emphasis on the first syllable).

Be sure to write right!

For more details and examples, go here or here.

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