Word Choice: Affect vs Effect
  • 3-minute read
  • 1st April 2023

Word Choice: Affect vs Effect

The words affect and effect are homophones, meaning they sound the same but have different meanings and spellings. These two words are especially easy to mix up because their meanings are similar. So today, we’ll clear up some of the confusion by explaining what affect and effect mean and when to use each one.


Most commonly, affect is a verb. To affect means to have an impact on someone or something. Let’s look at a few examples:

High heels affect how fast I can walk.

Getting in a car accident will affect your insurance rate.

Alcohol affects lightweight people more quickly.

We can also use affect in the past tense by adding the suffix ed:

Doubling the salt affected the flavor of the cookies.


Usually, effect is a noun. An effect is the end result of something being impacted (or affected) by something else. For example:

A long-term effect of the illness is constant fatigue.

The performance had an unusual effect on the audience.

Caffeine has a terrible effect on me.

Effect can also become effective, an adjective indicating that something is or was successful in having an effect (usually a positive one):

Concise writing is most effective for conveying your point.

Effect as a Verb

As if things weren’t already challenging enough, you also need to be aware of other uses of affect and effect. We sometimes use effect as a verb meaning to cause something to happen or to bring about:

The new mayor promised to effect change.

If this meaning is confusing because it sounds very similar to the meaning of affect, try this little trick. If you can swap the word with cause, the correct choice is likely to be effect. If influence would sound better, then you probably need affect.

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Affect as a Noun

Affect can be a noun in one instance: when we’re describing a visible emotional or psychological state:

The patient’s affect was distressed and anxious.

This use is most common in psychology, but it may pop up occasionally in other contexts.


Although we’ve covered some variations of the words, you can safely assume that affect is a verb and effect is a noun in most contexts. Here’s a little trick to help you remember the difference: A is for Action (Affect) and E is for End result (Effect).

Our expert editors would be happy to check your work for any mixed-up homophones, as well as spelling, punctuation, grammar, and more! Try out a free sample of our service today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are examples of affect vs effect?

Affect is a verb, and effect is a noun: “Altitude affects me.” “Altitude has an effect on me.”

Is something affected or effected?

Affected means that something was influenced or impacted, while effected means that something was caused or enacted: “The music affected me.” “The government effected new laws.”

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