Effect v. Affect

“The new law will affect schools throughout the county.” Wait. Should that have been “effect”?

As a professional editor, I’ve learned to pause and scrutinize “affect” and “effect” every time I see them. The two words are easy to confuse: Not only do they look and sound similar, but each can be both nouns and verbs.

This chart can help you keep them straight:

  Noun Verb
Effect A result (as in “cause and effect”). To bring about (as in “to effect a change”).
Affect A psychology term for an outward sign of an emotional state. (A troubled person may show no affect of their emotions.) To influence or have an impact on (as in “to affect the outcome of an election”).

To put on a false appearance (as in “to affect a smile despite sadness”).


Most of the time, you’ll use “effect” as a noun and “affect” as a verb. But it’s worth remembering the exceptions.

And, yes, “the new law will affect schools” is correct.


By Laurie Bonner, Editor for TalentMEDIA Services. To reach Laurie, you can email her at laurie@talentmediaservices.com.

The professionals at TalentMEDIA Services can help you write it right. Contact us today at information@talentmediaservices.com.