My nephew Charlie has asked me to address the difference between affect and effect. Because Charlie is a member of our armed forces, off in the middle of nowhere, away from his family, fighting to keep the world safe, getting seasick on an aircraft carrier (okay, I doubt that he gets seasick), I have agreed to answer his question. Also because he's my nephew,and I love him. Also because I answer everybody's questions.
- How will the rain affect the crops?
- How does that kid who won't stop talking affect the nerves of his teacher?
- How will this missile affect that group of terrorists?
Since effect is a noun, we're using it to name the outcome or result of an action, not the action itself.
- What is the effect of the rain on the crops?
- What effect does that kid who won't stop talking have on his teacher's nerves?
- What is the effect of this missile on that group of terrorists?
Easy, right? Let's have a quiz. Fill in the blank with either "affect" or "effect." The answers are at the bottom of the page.1. Dramamine had a soothing _____ on Charlie's seasick stomach.
On a side note, the adjective form of effect is effective. This is commonly used to describe something that results in a desired outcome.
- The class's behavior was effective in making their teacher hide under her desk.
- Is solar power an effective source of energy?
- Becoming concerned about your grade the last day of the quarter is not an effective strategy.
Answers to the quiz:
*Now there is a word, "affective," but it has nothing to do with what we're talking about, so forget about it. Just pretend it's not there. The average person will never use it. It's a psychological term dealing with emotions, and we just don't want to go there. People who have Seasonal Affective Disorder are affected by this word, but not your average sailor, so forget it.
**Also, sometimes "effect" can be used as a verb in formal English (that's not your everday English). For example:Many parents lack confidence in their ability to effect change in their children's behavior.It means produce/create something, like "change." Now just forget it.