Grammar Tips – Affect vs. Effect

As a person who deals mainly with numbers on a day-to-day basis, I still need to be able to communicate effectively with my coworkers and bosses. The biggest grammar challenge I constantly second-guess myself on is when to use “affect” or “effect.” Now, I know that “affect” is usually a verb, and “effect” is a noun in most cases, but I still get them confused when using them in context.

I turned to for guidance, and they provide the following examples of how to use “effect” and “affect” correctly:

  • The storm knocked down power lines, affecting several thousand people in rural communities. [CBC]
  • Gauging the disaster’s effect requires assessing economic activity that might be lost. [Wall Street Journal]
  • The regulator has estimated that its new rules will affect up to 11.3pc of borrowers. [Telegraph]
  • But the smell of freshly baked bread may have positive effects far beyond the obvious ones. [Independent Online]

However, there are times when “effect” does act as a verb when used in the context of “bring about.” For example:

  • His genuine desire to effect change was thwarted by a system which is stale and often ineffectual. [Independent]

But I’m going to master the common uses first, and hold onto Grammarist’s simple sentence, “When you affect something, it produces an effect,” to help me distinguish which one to use.


Previously written by Tamara Curtis for EEI Communications. For more Information about grammar and editing and to see how the TalentMEDIA team can help you, contact Tara Madison at today!