What Is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?

Updated on September 26, 2018
Maggie Bonham profile image

MH Bonham is an award-winning author and editor. Bonham is also the author of more than 35 books as well as thousands of articles.

The words affect and effect are often confused in the English language. Even native English speakers use the two words incorrectly . The difficulty lies that both sound similar and both can be used as nouns and verbs.

Both words come into English from Latin through Old French. Despite the similarities between the two words, the etymology is different. Hence the reason why affect and effect have different usages and different meanings in English.

Etymology of Affect

Affect comes the from Latin verb, afficere, meaning to influence. It entered English through Old French from the Norman Conquest. By the Middle Ages, affect meant to infect or to attack.

Affect also has a second source in Latin that came from Old French. The Latin verb, affectare, means to aspire to, to desire, or to aim at. It eventually became to mean to make pretense of.

However, this is where the etymology gets interesting. Affect also comes from the Latin noun, affectus, meaning a disposition or mood that is caused by external influences.

Do You Know How to Use Effect and Affect?

view quiz statistics

Etymology of Effect

The word effect has a similarly convoluted etymology to affect. It comes into English by way of French as well from a Latin word. In Latin, the noun is effectus, meaning a performance or accomplishment. It gradually came to mean the completion of something or execution. By the late 1400s, it grew to mean the ability to produce an intended result. By the 1500s, the word shifted to mean a result, consequence, or purpose.

However, effect also came to mean something perceived as real, thus creating the word that we use when we say sound effects or stage effects.

To make effect even more confusing, as a verb, effect comes from the Latin word efficere, meaning to accomplish, similar to the noun. It grew to mean to produce as an intended result.

General Difference Between Affect and Effect

The general difference between affect and effect is that affect is most often used as a verb and effect is often used as a noun. However, affect can be used as a noun occasionally and effect can be used as a verb. The etymology of each gives you an idea how the words can be used as nouns and verbs.

Affect as a Verb

When using the word affect as a verb, it means to act on something, to change or alter something. It can also be used to describe a change of a mental state. Examples of using affect as a verb:

  • The hurricane didn't affect the coastline, but went out to sea.
  • His father's death affected him deeply.

Affect as a Noun

When using affect as a noun, it describes a particular mental state rather than an action. It is used often in psychology in describing someone's emotional state. For example:

  • His affect was gloomy after his favorite football team lost.
  • Buying her lunch and talking about her problems improved her affect considerably.

Effect as a Noun

When using the word effect as a noun, it means a result, consequence, or cause. It may also refer to the ability to change something or influence it. It may also describe something perceived. Examples of these are:

  • The effect of the hurricane was catastrophic.
  • He pushed on the boulder, but his efforts had little effect.
  • I love going to movies for their special effects.

Effect as a Verb

Effect can be used as a verb to mean something that changes something or accomplishes something. A few examples of this are:

  • The dark lord effected the final stage of his evil plan.
  • Sally's new ideas effected the company's change from start up to a mid-sized corporation.

Improper Use of Affect and Effect

Many people use affect and effect improperly. Here are some examples of improper usage of the word.

  • That movie effected me and I thought about it all day. (Should be affected instead of effected.)
  • That special affect was something. (Should be effect for affect.)
  • I don't know why that effected the dog; he shouldn't bark. (Should be affected instead of effected.)
  • Her effect was rather sad. (Should be affect.)
  • How did that effect you? (Should be affect.)

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 MH Bonham

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • Maggie Bonham profile imageAUTHOR

        MH Bonham 

        13 months ago from Missoula, Montana

        Thank you! Glad you liked it!

      • tajwershakir profile image

        Tajwer Shakir 

        13 months ago

        Very well written and explained ma'am! And I scored 7/10 in your quiz too!

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)