Effect vs. Affect

  ramyashankar  —  Grammar Tips

The cause and effect story

Well, the #metoo movement started with some genuinely affected ladies coming forward and sharing their horrifying experiences. However, the negative effect of the movement was that some people misjudged them and started poking fun!

In the above example, one of the words (affect) is the experience of emotion and another is the result (effect) of what has happened. Well…

When you have to talk about emotion – use affect. Example – I am quite affected by his story and want to do something about it.

The second part means the cause of my current or future action is something that had an influence on me.

The side effects of this medicine are many.

Clearly, effect is the consequence of something else.


Origin of the words

Affect is more of an emotion and originated from the latin word affectare which means ‘aim at’ or ‘influence’. Examples –

The negativity at workplace affects my overall health.

I don’t think my words affect him anymore.

Effect originated from the latin word efficere, which means ‘accomplish’. It means to bring about a change or cause something (action) to happen. Examples –

The negative effects of bad-mouthing others are not immediately seen.

We are here to lessen the effects of pollution by planting more trees.


The similarity

With such clearly distinct meanings, what is the confusion?

Whenever you look up the dictionary, you will see affect as a synonym of effect. Both the words are some kind of influence because of a past action.

Consider this example –

I got influenced by her empty talks which seemed true at that time. As a result, I got cheated and lost lot of money.

The first sentence is an affect – I was affected (emotionally) by her talks which seemed true. This means I believed it.

The second sentence is an effect – The effect was that I lost lot of money.

The difference reinforced

As we saw in the above example, affect is the emotional thing (feeling) and effect is a reaction (which is seen by everyone).

·         My uncle smokes a lot. That affects the whole family. This habit is causing a negative effect on his health too.

·         The effects of flood are no food, no water and no shelter. These unavoidable calamities affect the life and relationships of thousands of people.


Here are few exercises so you can be sure of what you have learnt –

1. Cancer _____ the whole body and can be treated only when diagnosed early.

Affects is correct here, as it is something that you are experiencing personally (more emotional involvement)

2. There are many side-_______ of the prescribed medicine.

Effects is the right one. The facts are stated here. If someone consumes, they will be affected by the side-effects!

3. Don’t let these petty issues ____ your morale.

Answer is ‘affect’. Think why?

4. Cold weather has ______ my health.

Whats the answer?

5. I was so ______ by our yesterday’s conversation that I immediately started working on my personality development.

Affected or effected? Think!


Hope you have a better understanding of these words now and were able to answer the questions correctly.

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