My Wednesday posts are now devoted to all things wordy - grammar, etymology, writing, the works.
If it involves language, I'll be talking about it here.
I've done A LOT of proofreading in my time, so I know that one of the most common grammatical errors people make is to use the word "affect" when they should use "effect" and vice versa.
Here are some facts to remember when you're deciding which word to use:
- Affect is a verb meaning to change.
- Effect is a noun meaning a result.
- A change comes before a result.
- The letter "a" comes before the letter "e" in the alphabet.
- If you are trying to say "to change," use "affect," because change comes before a result, and the letter "a" comes before the letter "e."
- If you are trying to say "a result," use "effect," because a result comes after a change, and the letter "e" comes after the letter "a."
Cause before result. "A" before "e." Simple, right?
- Alcohol affects the way I speak.
- The effect of the margaritas was immediate.
- The cars people drive do not affect my opinion of them.
- The Porsche did not have the desired effect on his date.
Just in case anyone wishes to challenge me on this rule, I will say that are two rare instances in which the roles are reversed and affect becomes a noun, and effect can be used as a verb:
- In psychology, an affect refers to the mood that someone appears to have, as in, "Her expression displayed a happy affect."
- "Effect" can be used to mean "to accomplish," as in, "she hoped to effect change with her vote."
This mistake made its way into Austin Kleon's latest book, Show Your Work! - even the pros slip up sometimes.
Questions, comments, complaints? You know what to do.