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Discover the Rules Behind Using Affect and Effect

The rules of grammar are both fun and confusing. There is a whole range of different words that people often get confused between. One of the most common errors is misusing the words affect vs effect.

So if you are someone who has found themselves mixing up this notorious duo, do not fret. Many say that this is probably one of the most mixed-up pairs of words in the entire English language!

The reason that the confusion happens so often is that both words sound extremely similar and really only have one different letter that separates them. And to make it even more confusing, both words can also function as a noun and as a verb.

But the definitions behind the two are significantly different, so misusing the two words can drastically change the meaning of what you are trying to say.

To help ensure that you use both affect and effect correctly, we have put together a handy guide that explains the rules, meanings and helpful tips for you to use.

Defining the Difference

So, before we get too far into the grammatical rules, let us first point out the actual variances when it comes to the definitions themselves.

1. Affect

The word affect is most commonly used to show the relationship between a behavior and an action. This will often be used to describe an object. For example, you would use the word affect when you are trying to explain how a particular movie or television show made you feel.

Example One: The romantic comedy we watched the other day really affected my mood for the rest of the evening. I felt really sad and lonely.

Example Two: The medicine would affect her emotionally and make her cry more than ever before.

2. Effect

In comparison, the word effect is most commonly used to highlight the actual relationship something has between creating a concrete change or producing an actual result. This means that the word effect is used when referring to describing an actual action.

Example One: The change in mood had an effect on the entire atmosphere of the meeting.

Example Two: The effect of the underdog victory was prevelant throughout the city for the rest of the week.

Tips to Spot the Differences

So how can you actually figure out the difference on a whim, as likely you will be using the word quite quickly? We have rounded out the various tips to keep in mind when it comes to figuring out if it really is affect or effect.

Tip One: A Before E

So, if you are wanting to really remember an easy solution for figuring out when to use affect versus effect, just think a before e!

What we mean by this is that the a in affect represents the actual action that takes place. Then, the e in effect is the result of that action.

Tip Two: Replace the Words to See if It Still Works

If you are still a bit confused, then just think if the two words can be replaced by their synonyms and the sentence still makes sense. For example, the word affect should easily be replaced by the synonym influence.

An example of this would be as follows:

The shooting would affect the morality of the school.


The shooting would influence the morality of the school.

For the word effect, you should test it by replacing the word with result. If the sentence still makes sense and holds the same meaning, you know you have used it correctly.

An example of this would be as follows:

The effect of the shooting would cause a change in gun laws.

The result of the shooting would cause a change in gun laws.

Tip Three: Think About the RAVEN Process

Now, you may be thinking, what the heck is RAVEN? Well, it is an acronym that was developed to help you understand the right time to use affect versus effect.

So, this is what RAVEN actually stands for:

Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun.

This means that the affect of something has to occur first before there is an actual effect. So the effect of something will always happen after an action occurs. Meaning that the effect always happens last. It really is as simple as RAVEN.


So why does all of this matter anyway? Well, for those grammar nerds out there, the English language may be complicated and confusing, but it equally is a cherished language whose rules deserve to be followed.

So if you are wondering if you will be affected, the answer is yes—use the word affect. And if you are wondering if the medicine has effects on your health, the answer is yes, use the word effect.

Mastering the art of using effect vs affect will help you not only sound more intelligent but gain you more respect and make you look like an absolute language whiz.


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