JS Tip 463: "Affect" or "Effect." Oh, wow . . . . 

From the Writing Workshops: "Affect" and "Effect"

We’re continuing our back-to-basics discussion. 

Our friend Olivia Pickering of Wells Fargo asked us to explore the differences beween affect and effect. 

There’s bad news and good news about affect and effect.

The bad news is that each word has two definitions. (No wonder it’s confusing.)

The good news is that the second definition of each word is so specialized, so narrow, you can (almost) ignore it.

Let’s talk about the first definition.


Affect is a verb. An action word. It means “to influence, change, or act upon.”

How might you remember it? Think of the a in affect as standing for action.

For example—


  • The pay raise affected (influenced, touched, acted upon) everyone in the company. Everyone bought BMWs.


    The blast affected (influenced, touched, acted upon) the entire block. It blew out every window.


Effect is a noun. A thing. It means “result, consequence, or outcome.”

How might you remember it? Think of “The effect.” The ending e in the links to the beginning e in effect.

For example—

The effect (result, consequence, outcome) of the pay raise was unprecedented. Everyone bought BMWs.

The effect (result, consequence, outcome) of the blast was catastrophic. It blew out every window.

    How’s that?

    Next week, we’ll continue the discussion and explore the second, specialized, narrow definitions. 

    Hey. We love this stuff.

    Mark Brooks