Affect v Effect

June 14, 2013

Based on a recent writing tip I wrote for my work colleagues.


Joe asked: Is it ‘result in adverse affects’ or ‘result in adverse effects’? Good question, Joe – and the answer is ‘effects’ in your example (‘adverse’ is the adjective qualifying the noun ‘effects’).

Affect/effect are a commonly misused, so here’s some guidance: Generally, affect is a verb (past tense: affected) and effect is a noun.

Mignon Fogarty (Grammar Girl; http://grammar.quickanddirtytips.com/affect-versus-effect.aspx) has this to say about each:

When Should You Use Affect? Affect with an a means “to influence” as in “The arrows affected Ardvark” or “The rain affected Amy’s hairdo.” Affect can also mean, roughly, “to act in a way that you don’t feel” as in “She affected an air of superiority”.

When Should You Use Effect? Effect with an e has a lot of subtle meanings as a noun, but to me the meaning “a result” seems to be at the core of all the definitions. For example, you can say “The effect was eye-popping” or “The sound effects were amazing” or “The rain had no effect on Amy’s hairdo”.

And our own Macquarie Dictionary has these definitions with examples of usage:


verb 1. to act on; produce an effect or a change in: The damp winters affected my chest. –Patrick White, 1976.

2. to impress; move (in mind or feelings): the poetry affected me deeply.

3. (of pain, disease, etc.) to attack or lay hold of: His lungs had been affected when he was a soldier in France when gas had been used in the fighting; –Hyllus Maris and Sonia Borg, 1985.

noun 4.  Psychology observable feeling or emotion, as linked to a thought process or as a response to a stimulus (opposed to conation).


noun 1. that which is produced by some agency or cause; a result; a consequence: the effect of heat.

2. power to produce results; efficacy; force; validity; weight: of no effect.

3. the state of being operative; operation or execution; accomplishment or fulfilment: to bring a plan into effect.

4. a mental impression produced, as by a painting, speech, etc.

5. the result intended; purport or intent; tenor or significance: he wrote to that effect.

6. (of stage properties) a sight, sound or, occasionally, smell simulated by artificial means to give a particular impression in a theatre.

7. a scientific phenomenon: the Doppler effect.

8. (plural) goods; movables; personal property.

verb 9. to produce as an effect; bring about; accomplish; make happen.

10. to produce or make.

phrase 11. be in effect, be in operation, as a law.

12. come into effect, become operative, as a law.

13. for effect, for the sake of a desired impression; with histrionic intent.

14. in effect, in fact or reality, although perhaps not formally acknowledged as such: he is in effect the leader.

15. take effect, to begin to operate, as a drug, etc.

See also: http://oilpatchwriting.wordpress.com/2010/09/21/affect-vs-effect/

[Links last checked June 2013]

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