Special effects

Posted on Jan 15, 2012 | Comments Off on Special effects

If you are unsure about whether to use affect or effect in a sentence, there’s a simple way to decide. It’s not foolproof, but in most cases, affect is used as a verb (to influence or make a change in), while effect is a noun (a result—think “special effects”).

But this being the English language, there are exceptions. Affect (with the accent on the first syllable) can be used as a noun (display of emotion), but this is rare and typically found only in discussions of psychology. More commonly, effect can be used as a verb (to achieve or bring about, as a change).

Still, in most instances, you can be confident you’re using the correct word by thinking of a short sentence: “You affect something to produce an effect.” Remember to keep affect and effect in alphabetical order—”a before e,” in other words—and your writing will suffer no ill effects.