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The Affect or Effect Conundrum and How to Solve It

Let's face it—the English language has some confusing grammar rules. In fact, some words in the English language are so confusing that incorrect usage is more common than correct usage—and affect vs. effect are two such words!

A problem many people have with understanding the difference between affect and effect is that there is only one letter that distinguishes the two from each other. Beyond that, affect is defined as to have an effect on so their definitions are similar. Then, both words sound almost the same when spoken quickly, creating further confusion. So, let's take a look at these two words and discuss a failproof way to remember the difference between them.


Affect is a verb that means to have an effect on; make a difference to; touch the feelings of (someone); move emotionally. However, there is one instance in which "affect" is a noun—when it refers to the way someone carries themselves or their outward demeanor. This usage of "affect" is uncommon, so it isn't a context you'll encounter often unless you're in certain fields, where someone might refer to "the patient's affect" (in psychology), meaning their disposition and how they outwardly present themselves.


  • The extra side dish doesn't affect the cost of the meal
  • It doesn't affect me to watch sad movies, so I usually only laugh at them.


Effect is almost always a noun and can mean: a change that is a result or consequence of an action or other cause; an impression produced in the mind of a person. Effect can also mean: the lighting, sound, or scenery used in a play, movie, or broadcast, as in movie special effects.


  • The effect of that movie on the audience is undeniable.
  • Those lights have a nice effect on the look of the painting.

And since it seems to be impossible to have an easy time with these two words, there is also one instance in which effect is used as a verb. When you "effect change," you bring about change, and you'll see it almost always combined with "change" in this context.

The Raven Effect

If you want an easy mnemonic device to help with the affect vs. effect conundrum, you can think of the word "RAVEN" to "Remember Affect is a Verb and Effect is a Noun." Just keep in mind that there are a few instances where this isn't always the case, but for most contexts and of the words, it is.

Affect vs. Effect in a nutshell
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