Affect versus effect: Clarity on this tricky soundalike tandem

Each is a verb and a noun, but correct usage depends, of course, on the context and intended meaning. Here’s guidance for veteran writers and novices alike on keeping them straight.

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Among the pairs of words that writers often confuse, affect and effect might be the most perplexing, perhaps because their meanings are so similar.

Affect, derived from affectus, from the Latin word afficere, “to do something to, act on,” is easily conflated with effect, borrowed from Anglo-French, ultimately stemming from the Latin word effectus, from efficere, “to bring about.”

What’s the difference between affect and effect?

Affect is usually a verb, meaning to influence or act upon. Example:

The loss of his father affected him profoundly.

Effect is usually a noun, meaning the result of an action. Example:

What will be the effect of closing Main Street?

Below you will find less-common meanings and related or derivative words.


The various senses of affect, each followed by a sentence demonstrating them, follow:

Words with affect as the root, followed by their use in a sentence, include the following:


The various senses of effect, each followed by a sentence demonstrating them, follow:

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