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Grammar help - Affect and Effect...a simple explanation?

(36 Posts)
katierocket Tue 19-Jul-05 10:02:58

I get so confused as to which to use when. I need a simple explanation and examples of usage please.

purpleturtle Tue 19-Jul-05 10:04:12

Affect - something that makes a difference to you
Effect - the difference caused

starlover Tue 19-Jul-05 10:04:56

affect... to affect something

effect... the effect of something

my cough really affected me

i felt the effect of the vodka immediately

WideWebWitch Tue 19-Jul-05 10:06:26

The effect is usually something that's happened or will happen as a result of something else, so the effect of posting is getting a response, the effect of drinking is getting drunk etc
Affect is usually what will or could happen, (gosh, I'm not explaining this v well, sorry!) as in 'drinking will affect your fine motor skills.' (sorry, first example that came to mind!) So it's partly to do with timing and partly that they are completely different words, meaning slightly different things and similar enough to be confusing to a lot of people.

wordsmith Tue 19-Jul-05 10:06:29

Also - something affected me greatly; I found it really effective.

katierocket Tue 19-Jul-05 10:06:30

so it should be "...the effect on the environment."?
I really do have a mental block with this one.
starlover - sorry but that hasn't helped, still confused.

purpleturtle Tue 19-Jul-05 10:06:51

The amount of money I earn will affect the amount of tax I pay.

The effect of earning more is that I pay more tax.

Clear as mud?

purpleturtle Tue 19-Jul-05 10:07:34

Yes, the effect on the environment is right

WideWebWitch Tue 19-Jul-05 10:07:46

Oxford dictionaries prob explain it better!

purpleturtle Tue 19-Jul-05 10:08:17

I think, affect can't be a noun, only a verb. Effect can be either

tamum Tue 19-Jul-05 10:08:20

To be very basic I would say that effect is a thing and affect is a verb, but I may well be caught out by the grammar curmudgeons. It does work if you think of it like that though!

WideWebWitch Tue 19-Jul-05 10:08:37

Yes it is the effect on the environment but it could be 'the oil spill affected the environment'

katierocket Tue 19-Jul-05 10:09:08

oh god I feel dim today. But according to that explanation wouldn't it be "the affect on the environment"? because it means the change on the environment

tamum Tue 19-Jul-05 10:09:18

Oh that's right purpleturtle, you can use effect as a verb can't you, to bring something about. You effect a change, for example.

anorak Tue 19-Jul-05 10:10:06

That's what I was going to say.

Affect is a verb and effect is a noun.

anorak Tue 19-Jul-05 10:10:34

Yes tamum you're right. I didn't think of that.

starlover Tue 19-Jul-05 10:12:17

i can't think of a better way to explain it than has been done already

NotQuiteCockney Tue 19-Jul-05 10:14:38

Katierocket, in the phrase "the effect on the environment", effect is a noun. It doesn't mean "to change" in that phrase, it means "the change", which is change being used as a noun. Isn't English fun?

(Think about it this way, you could say "the cat on the chair". Cat is absolutely a noun.)

Most of the time, effect is used as a noun, and affect as a verb. (Effect can be a verb, but it's rare. E.g. "Let's effect that change", as tamum says. Affect can be a noun, but always in a psychological sense, as in "flat affect".)

katierocket Tue 19-Jul-05 10:14:44

not your fault starlove and I cannot seem to get it into my thick skull. I just don't seem to be able to grasp how you use it differently.

assumedname Tue 19-Jul-05 10:14:48

affect is a verb

effect is a noun

effect can also be used as a verb, but it's a higher register, ie more formal

WigWamBam Tue 19-Jul-05 10:15:04

Affect means to influence: "I was affected by the dry weather".

Effect means a change caused by something or someone: "the effect of pollution on the environment".

So the environment would be affected by pollution, but the change that was caused by that would be the effect of the pollution.

katierocket Tue 19-Jul-05 10:15:54

i see a chink of light NQC but still not 100% got it.

starlover Tue 19-Jul-05 10:18:24

yes wwb and nqc explain well!

NotQuiteCockney Tue 19-Jul-05 10:18:25

Ok, katierocket, do you understand the difference between verbs and nouns? That may be the problem?

If it helps, this is a really common problem. They're confusing words. It's a confusing thing. And a confusing language.

katierocket Tue 19-Jul-05 10:19:43

yes...I think
nouns are objects and verbs are 'doing' words

GOD I am cluelss

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