Affect vs. Effect

Many students have a difficult time using “affect” and “effect” correctly. This list can help you compare the two and know which one to use in a situation.


  • Almost always a verb
  • Means “to influence” something
  • Example: My unpleasantly located rash adversely affected my unicycling that week.
  • Example: John and Jane were negatively affected by the zombie attack.
  • In rare cases, “affect” can be used as a noun to mean “an emotion”
  • Example: The actor was challenged to show many affects from sadness to joy.
  • “Affective” is an adjective that is used often in psychology that relates to moods or emotions.
  • Example: An affective disorder in psychology may include mania, depression or a combination of the two.


  • Almost always a noun
  • Means “a result” of something
  • Example: The rash had many negative effects on my unicycling skills.
  • Example: The zombie attack brought about many negative effects.
  • In rare cases, “effect” can be used as a verb to mean “to bring about or create”
  • Example: If I am elected President, I will effect several major changes in taxes.
  • “Effective” is an adjective that is used to describe success in producing a desired result. It can also mean “to be striking.”
  • Example: She gave an effective persuasive speech about Swig; afterwards I went to get a drink there.

Just for fun, here are both words used in a single sentence:

In Writing class, you affect an effect.  In Acting class, you effect an affect.

Some information taken from

Copyright (C)2013 by Kathleen Weaver. All rights reserved. This document may be distributed as long as it is done entirely with all attributions to organizations and authors. Commercial distribution is strictly prohibited. Portions of this document may be copyrighted by other organizations.