SPaG: Affect or Effect – 3 tricks to remember which to use💡

Hello, welcome back. Do you struggle to know whether to use “affect” or “effect” in your writing? Are you tired of giving up and using “impact” instead?

Woohoo! Fantastic! I can help with that because today, I’m going to let you into a few of my teaching trade secrets about those pesky words. Is it affect or effect? After reading this post, you won’t have to ask that question again.

hispanic girl whispering secret on ear of friend
Photo by Eren Li on Pexels.com

Here in the UK, even as native English speakers, mixing up affect and effect is commonplace. They’re different parts of speech, but they sound almost identical. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Bear and bare, here and hear, and write and right are other examples of homophones that cause headaches to writers of all ages. During my years in the education sector, I’ve collected quite a few handy mnemonics related to spelling and grammar. Today, I’m sharing some affect vs effect handy helpers with you.

How do I remember the difference between affect and effect?

Getting the meaning behind each word cemented in your mind is vital. Having that knowledge will give you the confidence to use affect and effect correctly.

➡️Effect

Effect is usually a verb that means to cause change but when effect is a noun, it means the results of a change. For example:

The effect of climate change is worldwide. Climate change may benefit some plants by lengthening growing seasons and increasing carbon dioxide. Other effects of a warmer world, such as more pests, droughts, and flooding, are more severe.

If you’re discussing the final result of action then you can use ‘effect’. By using this simple rule, you can remember that ‘effect’ represents the end, as they both start with ‘e’. Think end, think E!

➡️Affect

Affect, on the other hand, is usually a verb and means to influence or to produce a change in something.

Gravity affects everything in the universe, but the amount of gravity affecting an object depends on two things: the masses of the objects being attracted and the distance between the objects.

Another handy mnemonic device to help you remember when to use affect in a sentence is Think A is for action!

You may also come across it used as a noun. Affect can be used to mean the facial expressions, gestures, postures, vocal intonations, etc., that typically accompany an emotion as well as the conscious emotion that occurs in reaction to a thought or experience.

His facial expressions were diminished and presented a flat affect.

💡Affect Pronunciation Hint:

  • When affect is a verb, the second syllable is emphasized = uh-FEKT
  • When affect is a noun, the first syllable is emphasized = AH-fekt

However, as with many words in the English language, using affect as a noun in this way is now only really used in psychology.

⭐3 simple tricks for remembering the differences ⭐

1. “A” comes before “E“ in the alphabet. The “A“ stands for the action that affects and comes before the effect. Think cause followed by effect.

2. If you can replace the word with influence, then you should probably use affect.

If you can replace the word with result, you should probably use effect.

3. You can put that altogether by remembering RAVEN:

  • R – Remember
  • A – Affect is a
  • V – Verb and
  • E – Effect is a
  • N – Noun
Infographic - SPaG Affect or Effect - 3 handy tricks to remember which to use in your writing

My final bit of advice about this and other mix-ups

English, like many other languages, has its own set of tricky rules and intricacies. We may not like it, but it is what it is. However, don’t give up.

With a little bit of practice and help from guides like this one, you can become a grammar master. Jotting down the things that repeatedly catch you out, as I suggested in my post about spelling mistakes, is a great way to retrain your brain.

I hope you found this post about affect and effect helpful. Are there any other bits of the English language that you struggle with? Drop me a comment below so that I can feature the solution in my next grammar post.

Until next time,

Kim