‘AFFECT’ AND ‘EFFECT’ ARE COMMONLY MISUSED. Here are some simple examples to help you get them straight.

The most common meaning of ‘affect’ is to influence, e.g.

The new image AFFECTED the size of the file.
The new sense of respect AFFECTED him profoundly.
The sunlight has AFFECTED the finish of this paint.

Another meaning of ‘affect’ is to behave artificially, e.g.

He AFFECTED a lisp and pranced about.
He tried to AFFECT an air of sophistication but failed.

A third (and rather obscure) use of ‘affect’ is found in psychotherapy. It refers to the set of emotions associated with an idea or mental state, e.g.

In hysteria, the AFFECT is sometimes entirely dissociated.

In this third usage (only), the stress is on the first syllable, so it’s pronounced AFF-ect.

The most common meaning of ‘effect’ is result, e.g.

The EFFECT was that the price doubled.
That isn’t the EFFECT we want.
I don’t know what the EFFECT of this will be.

Another meaning of ‘effect’ is to cause or to produce, e.g.

Through shrewd tactics, he EFFECTED a turnaround in sales.
Upon taking the job, he EFFECTED sweeping reforms.

— Tim North

You’ll find many more helpful tips like these in Tim North’s much applauded range of e-books. More information is available on his website. www.scribe.com.au/ebooks.html

Skip to toolbar