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Effective vs. Affective

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1:56 min read
  Marius Alza  —  Grammar Tips
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Another pair of words that can generate a lot of confusion if used wrongly, is represented by “effective” and “affective”. Misspelling or replacing them one with the other is an often mistake, easy to make, because the only difference between them is their first letter.

Even though this situation can be tricky, it’s important that you understand the difference between “effective” and “affective”. After all, the correctitude of your vocabulary will define the level of your English speaking abilities. Plus, it is very easy to remember when and how to use these two words, as they mean completely different things. Let’s take a closer look to them!

Effective vs. Affective

Both “effective” and “affective” are adjectives. This is the only similarity between them, besides their spelling. But regarding their definitions, they represent so different concepts.
“Affective” describes something related to feelings, to emotions. Whereas “effective” describes something successfully achieved, quickly and efficiently. As you can observe, the two words refer to completely different concepts and this explains why you should never replace them with the other.

When do we use “effective”?

“Effective” is used with the sense of “efficient”, describing something that has been successfully achieved using as few resources as possible.
Example: Effective management is one of the secrets for a successful business. – used with the sense of “efficient”.

When do we use “affective”?

“Affective” is used in a psychological context, referring to something related to emotions and feelings. More clearly, “affective” is always used as a synonym for “emotional”.
Example: The psychologist observed that the patient had no affective responses. – “affective” is used with the meaning of “emotional”.


Remembering the difference between “effective” and “affective” is not difficult at all, if you think about their meanings. “Effective” might be spelled almost identically with “affective”, but if you think about what they represent, things will turn very clear immediately. “Effective” has a similar definition with “efficient”, plus they are also spelled similarly, so it’s easy to link them in your mind. Whereas “affective” originates from the noun “affection”, referring to emotions and feelings. So keeping in mind the source of the word will help you identify its meaning as well. Make sure you consider these tricks before using “effective” or “affective”, to use them in the proper context and with the right meaning!

Effective vs. Affective

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