Many words in English are commonly confused by both those learning the language and native speakers alike. Two such words are “affect” and “effect”. These words are commonly confused as they look and sound similar. In this guide, we’ll take a look at the difference between “affect” and “effect” and how to use them correctly in a sentence when speaking or writing.
Check out other easily confused words in English by visiting this page. Teachers and students can download this guide as a PDF file using the link at the bottom of the page.
“Affect” is most commonly used as a verb which means to influence or have an impact on something or someone. For example, “The weather affected our plans for the day.” Less commonly, “affect” can be used as a noun in psychology to refer to a person’s emotional state. For example, “Her affect was flat and unresponsive.”
How to use “affect” in a sentence:
- The noise from the construction site affected my ability to concentrate.
- The medication affected her mood and energy level.
- The drought affected the crops and led to a shortage of food.
- The negative feedback affected his confidence and motivation.
- The environmental pollution is affecting the health of the local residents.
- The rainy weather has been affecting my mood lately.
“Effect” is most commonly used as a noun which refers to the result or consequence of something. For example, “The effect of the medicine was immediate.” However, “effect” can also be used as a verb, which means to bring about or cause something to happen. For example, “The new policy will effect a change in the company’s operations.”
How to use “effect” in a sentence:
- The new tax law will have a significant effect on small businesses.
- The effect of the pandemic on the economy has been devastating.
- The music had a profound effect on her emotions.
- The policy change will have a ripple effect throughout the organization.
- The new policy is expected to effect changes in the company’s culture. (used as a verb)
- The mayor hopes to effect improvements in the city’s infrastructure. (used as a verb)
Why are “affect” and “effect” commonly confused?
The main confusion stems from the fact that as homophones, both “affect” and “effect” are pronounced the same (/əˈfekt/, although “effect” can be pronounced /ɪˈfekt/ in British English). They also have similar meanings and can both be used as nouns and verbs. In their most common uses, “affect” should be used as the verb, and “effect” should be used as the noun.
affect – usually a verb which means to influence or have an impact on something or someone
effect – usually a noun which refers to the result or consequence of something
Do you know the difference between “affect” and “effect”?
Fill in the blanks in the following activity with the correct form of the word (“affect” or “effect”):
- The loud noise _______ my ability to sleep.
- The company’s new policy will have a significant _______ on its employees.
- The medication had a negative _______ on her appetite.
- The _______ of the pandemic on mental health has been profound.
- The new marketing campaign is designed to _______ sales.
- The bad weather _______ the outdoor event.
- The positive feedback had a great _______ on her confidence.
- The news of the layoffs will _______ the morale of the employees.
- The government’s decision will have a far-reaching _______ on the economy.
- The pollution is _______ the health of the local residents.
Answers: 1. affected, 2. effect, 3. effect, 4. effect, 5. effect, 6. affected, 7. effect, 8. affect, 9. effect, 10. affecting