Commonly Confused Homophones: Affect and Effect
The difference between affect and effect—two similar words—is significant. In fact, affect and effect don’t have a similar meaning. However, because these words sound similar, many people get the two words confused. The next time you consider using either of these words in a sentence, remember these tips to understand the difference.
Affect is used when describing how something has impacted you, while effect is used to describe the actual or desired result. For example, you might share how the current pandemic affected (past tense) your income because of the effect created by the termination of your position at work. You might have been affected emotionally and financially by the loss of your employment, yet the loss of your employment is an effect of the global pandemic.
Another distinction between the two words is that effect is a noun when indicating the result of an action, while affect is most often used as a verb. However, it’s important to note that affect can be used as a noun when describing aspects of a person’s demeanor, such as when describing vocal inflections or facial expressions. The aforementioned use of affect as a noun is less common and not the cause for the erroneous use between the two terms.
Perhaps it is most helpful to consider the word “impact” when identifying if you should use affect or effect in a sentence. Has something affected or impacted your state of mind or capacity to accomplish something? Alternatively, consider if the event had an effect or impact on your work or life. In these two examples, the word “impact” is used; however, it is a verb in the first example, while it is a noun in the second example.