Affect or Effect?

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I used to consider myself great in English, Language Arts; anything that had to do with writing. The older I get, the more I realize how much I just don’t know. Honestly what gets me more confused than anything is deciding to use ‘affect’ or ‘effect’. I will sometimes even change my whole sentence around because I’m not sure if I’m using the right one. It’s a little bit ridiculous, but it is what it is. Based on the amount of information out there and the articles written, I am clearly not the only one having this issue.

For starters, let’s start with the basic definition of the words (courtesy of Dictionary.com)

af·fect [v. uh-fekt; n. af-ekt]

Verb (used with object)
1. To act on; produce an effect or change in: Cold weather affected the crops.
2. To impress the mind or move the feelings of: The music affected him deeply.

Noun
4. Psychology. Feeling or emotion.

ef·fect   [ih-fekt]

Noun
1. Something that is produced by an agency or cause; result; consequence: Exposure to the sun had the effect of toughening his skin.
2. Power to produce results; efficacy; force; validity; influence: His protest had no effect.

Verb (used with object)
1. To produce as an effect; bring about; accomplish; make happen: The new machines finally effected the transition to computerized accounting last spring.

Think about it this way- if you need to use a verb, the majority of the time you will want to use affect. Weather affects our moods. Hours worked affect your paycheck amount. Exercise affects your health. If a noun is what you are looking for, generally speaking you’ll use effect. The effect of regular exercise is better health. The effect of working more hours is a larger paycheck.

I hope this can help someone. I know that I have often used the words as if they were interchangeable  and I have seen a lot of people use the words the wrong way; clearly this is a common error.

*Please feel free to add any additional tips in the comments, or any other commonly misused words 🙂

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