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16 Jul

Difference between affect and effect

Should I use affect or effect? Many people, especially native English speakers, are confused by these two words. So to lay this matter to rest, here are the common definitions of the words.

From the two, the least in number of common definitions is affect. From the perspective of grammar, affect plays the role of a verb in a sentence. Affect is a synonym of influence and it means to have an influence on someone or something, or to cause them to change. For example: It’s a disease which affects mainly older people.

On the other, the effect has multiple, common definitions. From the perspective of grammar, effect plays the role a noun in a sentence. Effect can either mean the result of a particular influence or to use. For example: The radiation leak has had a disastrous effect on the environment, and, the new salary increases will take effect (= begin) from January onwards.

Effect also has a few specialised uses. Most probably, you’ll come across in a newspaper or you might hear it from a bureaucrat. We’ve written a few sentences which carry these specialised usages. Can you work out what they mean?

They had to wait ten minutes for the anaesthetic to take effect before they stitched up the cut.

So in effect the government have lowered taxes for the rich and raised them for the poor.

She said she was unhappy, or words to that effect.