AFFECT vs. EFFECT
If you have ever known identical twins, you will know what we are talking about here. Identical twins
are never exactly identical but should you forget that tiny distinguishing mark, you can find yourself in
some very embarrassing situations if you mix them up. Imagine, if you were dating one of them and
started to get intimate with the other by mistake! Ouch.
Well here we have the terrible twins “Affect” and “Effect”. They have so much in common – they look
(almost) the same, they are both nouns and they are both verbs but they have very different personalities.
While “affect” as a noun means an emotion or a mood and rarely steps out in company (so not many
people know or need it), “effect” is very popular. “Effect” means the result of something, either
achieved or desired, e.g.
This medicine has no effect on me. In fact, it is not very effective.
I love the effect [on me] of that colour combination.
The law will come into effect on 1 January.
And in the plural, “effects” is a legal term meaning belongings and a technical term as in “sound effects”.
The twins are more deceptively similar when they dress up as verbs.
To “affect” means to pretend or to “put on” as in:
He affected a knowledge of Chinese but could say only kow-tow and won-ton.
He affected an upper-class accent, a brocade waistcoat and a long cigarette-holder, but fooled no-
And it also means to have an influence on someone or something as in
His attitude does not affect me.
Do you think we will be affected by the financial crisis?
While “effect” means to make or do something
He effected a change – means that he made a change.
Now where all this gets really difficult is when the twins join forces to confuse us as in:
He has effected a change that will probably affect us.
He affects an accent that has a stunning effect.
Will the Doppler effect affect the effect that the noise of the passing trains will have on us?
And from this, develop other nouns such as: