Affect vs. Effect

What effect can falling asleep at the wheel have?  If you crash, it can affect your whole life.

What effect can falling asleep at the wheel have?  If you crash, it can affect your whole life.

People often confuse affect and effect.  Here’s the quick and dirty on how to choose the right one:

We tend to use effect as a noun, which is most commonly a person, location, thing, or concept. An effect results from a cause.

Affect is most commonly a verb, and it means to change or have an effect on.

Disclaimer: sometimes we use affect as a noun, such as in literary criticism or psychology. But for the moment let’s ignore this case.

In at least one sense, we can think of the words affect and effect the way we think about cause and effect. Just as you can cause an effect (noun), you can affect (verb) an effect (noun). For instance, suppose Billy threw a rock at Tommy, and, upon receiving the rock to the face, Tommy fell down. The following two statements are reasonably similar and true:

    Billy caused Tommy to fall down.

    Billy affected (verb) Tommy such that he fell down.

In both these sentences, the effect is the act of falling down, while the affect or the cause is the act that produces Tommy’s fall.

Did we affect (verb) you with this article? Please let us know what effect (noun) we had in the     comments below.

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