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*Asterisk = examples of errors or poor constructions*.

Student Learning: Grammar

Common vocabulary mistakes

Affect or effect

'Affect' and 'effect' are often confused because their meanings are so similar. But just remember that most of the time 'affect' (spelled with an 'a') is a verb, and 'effect' (spelled with an 'e') is a noun.

  1. 4.1 Affect:

    Affect is a verb meaning 'to influence'.

The bully's nasty words affected him deeply.

I knew my sprained ankle would affect my ability to run tomorrow.

  1. 4.2 Effect:

    Effect is a noun meaning 'the result of'.

The bully's nasty words had no effect on him.

The painkillers for my sprained ankle had a calming effect.


  1. 4.3 Rare exceptions:

Affect is sometimes used as a noun to mean the mood someone has. It is mostly used in an education context with reference to the emotional and external factors that influence a person's ability to learn. (It is pronounced / 'ʌfekt / (uh-fect) - with the stress on the A).

Effect can be used as a verb that essentially means 'to bring something about' or 'accomplish'. For example, "Amnesty International hopes to effect change within third-world countries."