Grammar Affect vs. Effect Rules |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Affect vs. Effect Rules

Knowing whether to use effect or affect may not qualify you as a genius, but you will be demonstrating an understanding about a grammar issue most people find perplexing. We trust that the strategies offered here will clear up any confusion you have had.

Rule 1. Use the verb effect when you mean bring about or brought about, cause or caused.

Example: He effected a commotion in the crowd.
Meaning: He caused a commotion in the crowd.

Example: She effected a change in procedure.
Meaning: She brought about a change in procedure.

Rule 2. Use the noun effect when you mean result.

Example: What effect did that speech have?

Rule 3. Use the verb affect when you mean to influence rather than to cause.

Example: How do the budget cuts affect your staffing?

Rule 4. Affect is also used as a noun to mean emotional expression.

Example: She showed little affect when told she had won the lottery.



If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

6 responses to “Affect vs. Effect Rules”

  1. mhikl says:

    Your explanation is the most succinct of the six I have reviewed. I have copied the examples from the other grammarians but your explanation heads the examples that I have my students study.

    Tim’s point is a good one and I shall use ‘in and of itself’ henceforth. Often borrowed worlds have an effect, slightly jarring, distracting from the whole or, as Tim points out, fail to match the meaning of a better word or phrase from the language being used.

    And kudos, my dear, for your strength of presence to accept and respond to Tim’s information. I, too, am always thrilled to have my errors pointed out to me. How else can we learn from the habits we accumulate in our journeys through complex lives.

    Namaste and care to all sentient beings across our ever-being, not expanding, conscious universe.

  2. Jane says:

    I find it easier to think of effect as active and affect as passive.

    Effect (Active): His medicine was effective for a short time. The law had a
    good effect on his behavior.

    Affect (Passive): Her affect was sad. Paralysis affected her legs.

    • Your interpretation of “active” and “passive” is a personal one. Grammatically, both of your “Affect” sentences are in the active voice. We are concerned that your method will not always yield the correct result.

  3. Celeste says:

    I have been a teacher for about 10 years, and this is literally the best explanation of these two words. Thank you because it can be so frustrating trying to explain this to high school students.

Leave a Comment or Question:

Please ensure that your question or comment relates to the topic of the blog post. Unrelated comments may be deleted. If necessary, use the "Search" box on the right side of the page to find a post closely related to your question or comment.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *