When to Use Affect vs. Effect

When to use affect vs. effect is confusing – for good reason. Since the 1400s, these words have been more or less interchangeable, with meanings passing back and forth between them. Here’s today’s accepted word usage.


“Affect” is mostly used a verb that means “to influence” or “to change.”

  • The state of the economy can affect a person’s buying habits.
  • In many circles, your clothing affects how you are perceived.

However… “affect” as a noun describes a feeling or emotion and is a term used most often in psychology.


“Effect” is most often used a noun meaning “result.”

  • The effect of his naval training was a well-run ship.
  • Every cause has an effect.

However… “effect” is sometimes used as a verb meaning “to accomplish” or “to bring about.”

  • He effected a studious demeanor, thinking it would impress his teachers.
  • They hope to effect a settlement of the dispute before the weekend.



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