“Affect” or “Effect”: Use the Correct Word Every Time

Affect or Effect?

Both of these words are verbs and nouns and their meanings overlap. This can be confusing to those whose first language is English. It can be baffling to those whose first language is one other than English.

Here is a basic guideline for affect or effect that can help clarify how to use the two words correctly:

Generally, we use affect as a verb (an action word) and effect as a noun (an object word).

What Does Affect Mean?

The verb affect means “to act on; produce a change in” as in, “The cold weather affected the crops.”
(The cold weather produced a change in the crops.)

The verb affect can also mean “to impress the mind or move the feelings of,” as in “The music deeply affected him.” (The music changed his feelings or thoughts). 

If you can substitute affect with another verb, you are using the right word:

“The cold weather damaged the crop.” “The music deeply moved him.”

So, when you want to use a word to express a change or to describe an action, choose affect.

What Does Effect Mean?

Effect is most commonly used as a noun, meaning “result” or “consequence.” One way to decide if effect is the correct word to use is to replace it with another noun. For example, “His sunburn was an effect of exposure to the sun.”  Another way to say it is, “His sunburn was a result of exposure to the sun.”

How to Remember the Difference between Affect and Effect

There is one trick to help you use the right word in almost every case: the word RAVEN:

R = Remember
A = Affect is a
V = Verb
E = Effect is a
N = Noun

Here is another way to remember when to use affect and effect:
A is for action (affect); E is for end result (effect). But to fully understand a word's meaning, it helps to see it in action. Let us review some of the grammar rules that regulate affect and effect with some tips and examples.


Affect is almost always used as a verb to mean to influence someone or something, rather than to cause something. 

  1. How does one’s personality affect success on the job?
  2. These weather conditions will affect the number of people who will come to the outdoor concert.

Affect can be used as a noun in one particular situation: when referring to a display of emotion. 

  1. The young man's facial expressions had a humorous affect.
  2. Georgette took the news of her company moving to Chicago with little affect.


Effect is most often used as a noun. It points toward an event or a thing. It is often used when an end result is being discussed.

  1. What effect did the schedule of games have on the team?
  2. Did his retirement have any effect on his family? 

Effect can follow these words: the, any, an, into, on, take, or. (Affect cannot!)

  1. The prescribed medication had an effect on the patient's symptoms.
  2. We have to give the changes time to take effect.

Effect can be used as a verb in one particular situation. It can be used to mean to accomplish something or to cause something to happen.

  1. The new manager is bound to effect positive changes in the office.
  2. All this rain will effect a great harvest.

Affect and Effect in Sentences

Here are some affect or effect example sentences for an even clearer picture of the difference between the two words and how they are used.

Using affect in a sentence:

  1. An early frost in Florida can affect the orange crop negatively.
  2. Smoking tobacco can adversely affect your lungs and blood flow.
  3. Hugs can affect a person's immune system in a positive way.
  4. How much a student studies will affect his or her grade point average
  5. My first-grade teacher affected my self-image and helped me believe in myself.

Using effect in a sentence:

  1. The new law prohibiting texting while driving will go into effect tomorrow.
  2. A dark paint color will have the effect of making the room seem smaller.
  3. The special effects in movies today are aided by computers.
  4. News broadcasts can have a huge effect on public opinion.
  5. A good night's sleep has a positive effect on your day.

Recap: When to Use Affect or Effect

Worth repeating:

Use affect as the verb in a sentence when talking about producing change or making a difference. For example,
a new discovery can affect a scientific theory, and failing a test can affect someone’s mood.

Here are some synonyms of affect: alter, change, influence, modify and impact (the verb version). That list should affect your understanding of the word. In this case, affect would mean “improve.”

Effect is a noun, and it is the outcome of an event or situation that created a change. The effect of the change can be big or small, but the fact that something changed is what makes the noun form of effect so important. For example, you can feel the effects of a cold or an earthquake, and the sun coming out can have a positive effect on your mood.

Some synonyms of effect include words like result, repercussion, consequence, outcome, aftermath and the noun version of impact.

Think RAVEN:

R = Remember
A = Affect is a
V = Verb
E = Effect is a
N = Noun


Adapted from https://www.dictionary.com/e/affect-vs-effect/ and https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/style-and-usage/affect-effect-grammar.html