An Easy Way To Remember The Difference Between ‘Affect’ And ‘Effect’

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Affect vs Effect

Don’t let the differences between affect and effect boggle your brain.

Affect is usually a verb.

Simply put, affect means to impact on or influence.

For example, “The snow affected the traffic.”

Effect is usually a noun.

Simply put, effect means a result or outcome.

For example, “I love coffee, the effect is amazing!”

Want to remember the difference?

Affect with an A is an Action.

Effect with an E is an End-result.


31 thoughts on “An Easy Way To Remember The Difference Between ‘Affect’ And ‘Effect’”

  1. Tonya N Underwood

    Okay so I see this. No one is wrong or right it’s just how my mental sees this. Your example:
    “The snow affected the traffic.” Meaning the snow impacted or influenced the traffic, so the “effect” of the snow (end result) is how the traffic is now operating due to the snow… Correct? The definitely go hand in hand I think.
    “I love coffee, the (effect) is amazing.” Is that not an action pertaining to feeling overall? Just asking. Great points and ways to stimulate the mental on the topic. Thank you.

    1. My college prof taught “NEVA” noun-(thing)effect, verb-(action)affect. If you know the difference between the 2 parts of speech, which most of us do, the rest is simple.

      1. Mary, thank you so much. I’d been making a mountain out of a mole hill following the other more complex explanations that I read before your’s. I had no idea. I’m 82, minored in English at Cornell, and that was a major hole in my knowledge of grammar. I must have been out that day is all I can think of as why I wasn’t even aware that there was any difference (just two different spellings) until I finally wondered aloud about it to my wife maybe 30 years into our marriage and her reaction was so jocular as in “you’re kidding, right?” that my brain immediately made contact with a very embarrassing adolescent experience in junior high school which caused the whole class to laugh at me for asking question. And was then too timorous to say, I still don’t understand. So it wasn’t till several years later that I finally realized that the Rhone (or is it the Rhine?) did not flow uphill (necessarily so because it flows from south to north).

  2. I feel that this is a great example of the two words. Thank you for the explanation of these two different words and their meanings.

  3. Can changing the sentence slightly, change the overall effect of affect or effect in these sentences?
    “The snow affected the traffic.”
    Or if put… The traffic was greatly effected by the snow.?

    “I love coffee, the effect is amazing!”
    Or if put… I love how coffee affects me, it’s amazing!

    These two words in the English language have always haunted me but this is a great way to remember. Thanks

    1. Hi Matt,

      The second example works fine, since we’re switching from noun to verb. We can see this via word substitution. If we swap ‘effect’ for ‘flavour,’ the sentence still makes grammatical sense, since here ‘effect’ is the noun. In the second sentence, the sentence no longer makes sense with ‘flavours,’ so we know that a verb is needed, hence ‘affect.’

      In the first example, we want ‘affected’ both times, since both sentences use it as a verb. Again, with word substitution, we can swap in ‘slowed,’ a verb, which works grammatically, showing that the verb ‘affect’ is needed both times. In a sentence like ‘The snow has had a startling effect on the traffic,’ we can see that ‘slowed’ would no longer make sense, and so we need the ‘effect’ noun form.

      The example I use when working is ‘kicked.’ If I can swap ‘kicked’ or ‘kick’ in and it makes sense, I need ‘affect.’ If not, ‘effect.’ Obviously, this is in terms of grammar, rather than logic.


      1. That’s awesome! Because I only memorized “too” and “to” with the world “also.” if it makes sense with “also” then it is “too.” so I really needed this!

  4. I’m still confused. I wrote, basically, I neglected to add a code the second time on a store order purchase and I asked, “Will my mistake, not adding the promo code the second time ” effect” the ultimate price”??
    Well I can’t help see how, using your example, they aren’t both acceptable.
    Please help me!!!

    1. Hi Buzz,

      One trick I’d suggest is to add the adverb ‘drastically’ before ‘affect/effect’. Adverbs only apply to verbs, so if this sounds right, you want ‘affect’, and if it sounds wrong you want ‘effect’.

      ‘Will my mistake, not adding the promo code the second time, drastically affect the ultimate price?’ makes sense, so it’s ‘affect’.

      In contrast, take the sentence, ‘Will not adding the promo code the second time have an a/effect?’

      ‘Will not adding the promo code the second time have a drastically affect?’ doesn’t make sense, so it’s ‘effect’.


      1. I will never confuse the two I once was told by someone whom I cared for very much that “I didnt have much affect on him” but he effected my life severely correct?

      2. YOU ARE A LIFESAVER!!! For YEARS I have tried to distinguish the two. This is the only grammatical thing that I can not seem to fully grasp. I have tried over and over researching the difference between the two and I understand one is a noun and one is a verb but that for some reason does not compute through examples to me. My husband says he understands the difference, yet does not correctly use them in a sentence. This is the only thing that has ever worked for me and I am completely grateful to you for this. THANK YOU!!!!

  5. Holy Cow! How about we just remove one of these words from our English language and use the other for both meanings considering they are so hard to understand. I’m still confused after reading all these comments.

    1. I am right with you Holly. I have a college degree and still have issues with these words. Urgh…..I have a mental disability called….overthinkingitise. lol

    2. Hi Holli,

      That’s something that often happens naturally when words cause more trouble than they’re worth. In the US, the tendency is to just use the word ‘practice,’ however it’s meant, but in other English-speaking countries, the word is written ‘practise’ when used as a verb and ‘practice’ when used as a noun.

      These tend to be battlegrounds for prescriptive grammarians (those who want to enforce set rules of language) and descriptive grammarians (those who want to chronicle grammar as it is used). What gets kept and what gets tossed aside tends to depend on how insistently people are willing to argue. That would imply that, somewhere out there, there are some truly ardent effect/affect fans keeping the difference alive. We talk more about the opposing views of grammar in the article below:

      The Word ‘They’ Can Improve How You Self-Edit


  6. If i am right? “affect is present tense” and effect could be past tense or present past particle or future past particle because the action has already happened and the result is out.

  7. Myles Dugenfelder

    Basically an affect causes and effects. A always comes before e in the alphabet so you cannot have an effect before an affect. Simple.

  8. Mike (a prescriptive grammarian)

    Affect is __usually__ a verb? I have never seen a dictionary definition of affect as a noun. Any example?

    Effect is __usually__ a noun. Agree. As a verb it can mean “to cause something to happen”, as opposed to affect – “to cause something to change”. e.g. “We want to effect significant improvements in production” vs “frequent coffee breaks adversely affected production”.

  9. I would like to give my teacher’s rule of thumb if I may. She said ” a” for change and ” e” for result. I love the rest of the opinions also. Great ideas.

  10. Ok, call me a slower learner because im still not getting it. So here’s why I’m looking up what the difference between affect and effect is. Story: A newborn baby squirrel fell out of the tree. Mama squirrel quickly went to get her baby. Mama squirrel cleaned her baby off first before running back up the tree. OK so a mom and daughter seen this action and decided to record it. Mom tells her young daughter not to go any further to stay right here because mama squirrel will protect her baby and might get mean. (Do ya’ll see what’s happening here? It’s beautiful isn’t it. Mama & baby squirrel and mama & daughter. Its a teaching lesson of life) So in the video you can hear the young daughter say “Ooohh Myyyy Goshhhh” dragging each word out and sounding like she was crying, but not crying out of sadness, she was enlightened to of seen such a thing. So my comment to this particular video is that it warms my heart to see how the little girl was so Effected or Affected by this cute mama & baby squirrel. Would it be Effect or affect? Im guessing the correct one is affect. Or affected.
    It warms my heart to see this little girl was so profoundly affected by how the mama squirrel was protecting her baby.
    Am I correct?
    Thanks in advance.

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