Friday, November 15, 2013

Affect and Effect: Not the Same

One error I’m seeing more frequently is the misusage of “affect” and “effect.” Contrary to what some writers seem to think, these two words are not interchangeable.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I see so many writing mistakes on any given day that I don’t even try to capture them all. But here are two examples that mimic what I’ve seen recently:

“Road construction will effect drivers for the next week.”

“The special affects for the show were created by XYZ Studios.”

One I did make note of came from an advertisement for a radio financial program:

“No nonsense real talk about the housing market and trends that effect our local and national economy”

That should say, “…that affect our local and national economy.”

Here’s the deal. “Affect” is a verb meaning “to make a difference to.” Or, as my computer dictionary ironically puts it, “to have an effect on.” (Not very helpful for those who are confused about these two words!)

“Effect” is a noun meaning “a change that is a result or consequence of an action.” It can also mean personal belongings, or the special lighting, sound, scenery, etc. used in movies, TV shows, and music.

Now, I confess that I usually have to stop and think about which word I’m using. The way I remember is that “affect” is an action (verb), and both words start with the letter ‘a’.

I can’t take credit for that tip because I’m pretty sure I learned it from someone else during my life’s journey. But now you can use it, too.

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