Saturday Editing Tip: Affect vs. Effect

As part of my Assisted Self-Publishing services, I offer a round of comprehensive editing. This editing covers grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Here’s a quick grammar tip for your Saturday!


Affect vs. Effect

I’m sure that every English teacher everywhere has a catchy way of remembering the difference between affect & effect. But, when I was in school, it wasn’t considered “in vogue” to diagram sentences, focus on parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, etc), and spend much time on those little nuances of grammar that I’ll use my whole life long. Like the difference between affect and effect.

It doesn’t help that the affect/effect pairing not only sound similar but don’t have meanings that are wildly dissimilar. I mean, couldn’t it  be like pear and pair? Same sound, nearly same spelling, but one’s a food!

BTW My mom taught me a trick to remember the difference. I was a third-grader and I had a bunny. Mrs. No-Name (Rabbit) liked to eat pears. She had EARS. The one she ate had EARS in it like a bunny! Whew!

The Grammar Girl website has a great tutorial on the difference between affect and effect. Go check it out.

But when I’m editing someone’s writing, sometimes I have to guess about what they’re trying to say. I wasn’t there for the thought process and I don’t want to fire off a list of questions about what they were thinking in that particular sentence and do they mean X or do they really mean Y?!

What I do is just re-read the sentence subbing in a synonym for effect or affect. Without fail, the sentence with the wrong affect/effect choice will JUMP out.

Effect Synonyms:

  • result
  • consequence
  • outcome

Affect Synonyms:

  • influence
  • impact


Kim Galloway
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