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Affect vs. Effect: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 16, 2023
"Affect" is typically a verb meaning to influence, while "effect" is a noun indicating a result or outcome.

Key Differences

"Affect" and "effect" are two words in the English language that are often confused due to their similar pronunciation and meaning. However, their primary distinction lies in their grammatical roles and definitions. While "affect" usually serves as a verb denoting influence or making a change, "effect" acts predominantly as a noun pointing to the result of a change.
For instance, when speaking of emotions, one might say that a sad movie "affects" them, indicating the movie's impact. Conversely, the "effect" of the movie might be tears or a feeling of sorrow, showcasing the outcome of that influence.
It's crucial to be mindful of these differences, especially in written communication, as the correct usage of "affect" and "effect" can affect the clarity of the message. Using "effect" where "affect" should be or vice versa can have the unintended effect of confusing the reader.
That said, English is known for its exceptions. Rarely, "affect" can be used as a noun in psychology, referring to an emotional state, and "effect" can occasionally be used as a verb meaning to bring about. However, in everyday communication, adhering to the primary definitions and roles of "affect" and "effect" is advisable.
To simplify, remember: "affect" often describes the action, and "effect" pinpoints the outcome of that action.

Comparison Chart

Grammatical Role

Typically a verb.
Predominantly a noun.


To influence or impact.
The result or outcome of a change.

Example Sentence

The weather can affect my mood.
The effect of the storm was widespread damage.

Exceptional Usage

Rarely a noun in psychology (emotional state).
Occasionally a verb (to bring about).


A for "action" (affect is the action of influencing).
E for "end result" (effect is the result of an action).

Affect and Effect Definitions


To like or prefer.
He affects old-style clothing.


A result or outcome.
The medicine had a calming effect.


To pretend or feign.
She can affect a British accent.


To bring about (rare verb usage).
The new manager will effect positive changes.


To aim at; to aspire.
They affect greatness.


An impression.
The lighting gave the room a cozy effect.


An emotional state (rare noun usage).
The patient displayed a flat affect.


Personal belongings.
He gathered his effects and left.


To influence or make a change.
His words deeply affect her.


A scientific phenomenon.
The Doppler effect explains the change in frequency.


To have an influence on or effect a change in
Inflation affects the buying power of the dollar.


Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result.


To act on the emotions of; touch or move.


The power to produce an outcome or achieve a result
The government's action had little effect on the trade imbalance.


Can "affect" ever be used as a noun?

Rarely, "affect" can be a noun in psychology, referring to an emotional state.

Which word would fit: "The rain might _____ my plans"?


Is "affect" usually a verb or a noun?

"Affect" is typically used as a verb.

What does "effect" commonly refer to?

"Effect" mainly refers to a result or outcome.

Can "effect" ever function as a verb?

Occasionally, "effect" can be a verb meaning to bring about.

What could be the "effect" of studying hard?

The "effect" could be good grades or improved knowledge.

Can a movie "affect" your feelings?

Yes, a movie can influence or change your feelings, thus it can "affect" them.

Are their pronunciations different?

They sound similar, but "affect" typically starts with an "uh" sound, while "effect" starts with an "eh" sound.

Which sentence is correct: "The drug has side affects/effects"?

The correct phrase is "The drug has side effects."

Can I say "The law was effected last year"?

Yes, if you mean the law was brought into being or made active.

Can a speech "affect" public opinion?

Yes, a speech can influence or change public opinion, so it can "affect" it.

Is the phrase "cause and effect" related to the word "effect"?

Yes, "effect" in "cause and effect" refers to the outcome or result of a cause.

Are both "affect" and "effect" derived from Latin?

Yes, both have Latin origins, with "affect" from "afficere" and "effect" from "efficere".

Which is correct: "The ___ of the law was immediate"?


How does weather "affect" mood?

Weather can influence or change mood, so it "affects" it.

What's the "effect" of consistent exercise?

The "effect" could be better health or increased stamina.

How can I remember the difference between the two?

Think of "affect" as the action and "effect" as the end result.

Is it common for people to confuse "affect" and "effect"?

Yes, due to their similar sound and related meanings, they're often mixed up.

Can a new policy "effect" change?

In rare verb usage, a new policy can "effect" (bring about) change.

Are there other words similar to "affect" and "effect" that are often confused?

Yes, like "accept" and "except" or "complement" and "compliment".
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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