Word Choice – Affect Versus Effect

Affect and effect are two words that are often confused. A good rule to remember is to use affect for a verb and effect for a noun. However, if you are someone who struggles with determining nouns and verbs, here is an easier way to choose the right word.

If you can substitute the words influence or change in the sentence, then use affect.

Correct Example

The restructuring does not affect his pay. (You could say, “The restructuring does not change his pay.” Therefore, affect is correct.)

If you can use the word result in the sentence, then use effect.

Correct Example

What effect will the change have? (You could say, “What result will the change have?” Therefore, effect is the right word.)

If you can use the phrase bring about, then use effect.

Correct Example

The manager wants to effect a change in the schedule. (You could say, “The manager wants to bring about a change in the schedule.” Therefore, effect is the right word.)

To summarize, remember:

Affect = to change or to influence (verb)

Effect = result (noun – often there will be an article before it, i.e., an, a or the)

Effect = to bring about (verb)

Remember, poor word choice may have an effect on your career path.

Test your knowledge

  1. What will be the effect/affect on the vacation schedule?
  2. The rising temperature will affect/effect the test results.
  3. The engineer checked the effect/affect of the heavier weight on the conveyer belt.
  4. The CEO’s directive effected/affected a change in the hiring policy.
  5. The winter months affected/effected profits in the building trade.

Answers: 1. effect, 2. affect, 3. effect, 4. effected, 5. affected

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