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The difference between affect and effect is a breeze if you know this trick to help you remember!

Affect comes before effect in the dictionary: a before e.

That's all you have to remember to know which word to use when. Here's why:

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A Mini-Lesson: Affect/Effect

Affect means to have an influence on something; to change it.

It is a verb; an action.

Affect=Action         

Effect is the result of change; the end of an action.

It is a noun; an end result.

Effect=End

For example, you might affect (have an influence on or change) the outcome of an exam by studying. You must do the action (studying) first, before you see the effect (the A+). In other words, you affect the situation, and then you see the effects. Just as a comes before e, affect comes before effect.

A

E

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Self-check:

1. end result, noun, effect

2. action, verb, affect

3. end result, noun, effect

4. end result, noun, effect

5. action, verb, affect

Affect

(by studying)

the Exam

then see the Effect

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Another Example

The (affect, effect) of a good fitness regimen

will be better health.

Is this sentence talking about the action (affect, verb) or the end result (effect, noun)?

• You might know you need a noun in the sentence.

• The sentence talks about the end result of exercising. After you study, you get the A+.

Since the end result comes after action, effect comes after action in ABC order, and end and effect both begin with e, the correct choice is effect.

Let's Try It

Here's the rule in a real sentence:     

Using a new mouthpiece may (affect, effect)

the way you play the trumpet.

Is the sentence talking about the action (affect, verb) or the end result (effect, noun)?

• You might know you need a verb in the sentence.

• The sentence talks about doing something (using a new mouthpiece). Remember, you have to do the studying before you get the A+.

Since action comes first, affect comes first in ABC order, and action and affect both begin with a, the correct choice is affect.

Exercises

In these sentences, identify the missing word as

a) action or end result

b) verb or noun

c) affect or effect

1. The chemotherapy caused a terrible side (affect, effect).

2. She wasn't going to let the cold (affect, effect) her performance.

3. What (affect, effect) do bee stings have on you?

4. Jill's betrayal had a sobering (affect, effect) on Eric.

5. I'll never let your criticism (affect, effect) my self-esteem.

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