Thursday, August 18, 2011

Grammar Daze - effect/affect

Tara Tyler asked that I do a post on effect and affect, so I'm going to do that for this week's Grammar Daze.

Effect is typically used as a noun. (Noun = person/place/thing/idea.)

Affect is typically used as a verb. (Verb = action word. It's what you do. To be or not to be. Or in this case, to affect or not to affect.)

An easy way to remember the distinction is to use alliteration. In this case, we'll use effect and elephant. They both start with E and they're both nouns.

If you want to know whether you should use effect or affect in a sentence, replace the word with elephant to see if it's the noun that you need. If it is, use effect.  Like so:

The effect was enormous.

Effect is the subject of this sentence. To be sure, replace it with elephant.

The elephant was enormous.

Now, for affect. People are affected by things happening. In this case, we will find another verb that starts with A. Let's go with assassinate.

It will affect us.

Let's see if this works with an alternate verb.

It will assassinate us.

In a few cases, effect is used as a verb. In this case, it's usually to show achievement of a final result, as in: "They will effect a new law."  As I said, most of the time, you'll use effect as a noun.

Happy writing!


  1. I love that "assassinate" is your default. ;)

    (Um, this is still Kate, btw. There's a new blog I'm sharing with people, and Google was being a pain and by the time I realized it, it was too late!)

  2. excellent lesson!
    thanks for picking me! (i always have my hand up =)

  3. This is one of my husband's pet peeves - and he has a lot of grammar peeves, working in an engineering office as he does. "E-ffect, E-ffect, people!" he'll shout, while I calmly check my email and wonder what work-related project he's red-inking this time.

  4. I rely on my mother to correct my affect/effect usage. If I'm remembering her lessons correctly, the affect (which starts with A) comes before the effect (which starts with E, which is after A, alphabetically).

    So you can affect (influence) the effect (result), but you can't effect the affect. I think. Don't quote me, 'cause I suck at this.

  5. I had to comment about the assassin elephant, because it got a smile out of me. Affect/effect is one I still sometimes need to think on. My current struggle is further/farther, though. Sometimes it is obvious, other times not so much.

  6. ROFL Those are awesome substitutes words!

  7. Great tips here, they really affected me.
    I read this post, and an elephant could not remember these alliterations better than me.
    The effect your post had on me was elephantine, which is good because I'm not an assassin.

  8. Except that sometimes "affect" is used as a noun, meaning someone's emotional physiognomy. So you would say, "The patient presented with flat affect," or "affect is hysterical," or whatever.

  9. Nothing like a knife-wielding elephant to cement grammar rules in the brain!

  10. Hehehe great way to help people to remember.

    A lot of people don't seem to know the difference.


  11. 10 minutes after reading this and I'm already using it! Thanks heaps

  12. Hahaha! Completely awesome way to explain it.

  13. Absolutely fantastic blog!!! Glad I found it! Love it!!!

    Lola x

  14. This is great! I always pause over effect and affect. Now I'll picture elephants wielding knives and I'll never get the words confused again. ; )

  15. I have to think about which one to use everytime. Half the time I just avoid it and pick another word. LOL. affect = action (or assassinate might help me though.

  16. Oh this one always makes me stop and think. Thanks, Laura!

  17. This is a great trick! I'll have to remember it, thanks so much. Glad Laura Pauling directed me your way.

    Have a great weekend!

  18. Hey Laura! I have just awarded you The Liebster Award! Stop by my blog for the details!

  19. Thanks to all of you for your wonderful comments and making me grin and sharing your thoughts on this with me!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!