Wednesday, March 09, 2011


Once again, someone has asked me to distinguish affect and effect. The meanings and differences are inextricably bound to their parts of speech. Many people never analyze parts of speech as adults, but it’s worth it in this case.

Both affect and effect can be either a noun or a verb, so there are four definitions all told.


  • Noun: feeling or emotion (used primarily in the field of psychology). The patient’s face showed no affect at all; he was impossible to read.
  • Verb: to have an influence on (substitute the word change as a test). Rheumatic fever can affect the heart.


  • Noun: Something produced, brought about by a cause (substitute the word “result” or “outcome” to check).
    The incident had a deleterious effect on our relationship.
  • Verb: to bring into existence or to produce (substitute the word “create” to check). Specific genes effect specific bodily characteristics.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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