English Basics: What is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?


What is the difference between effect or affect?

English Basics: What is the Difference Between Affect and Effect?

Our teachers are often asked about the difference between affect and effect and to be fair, even native speakers sometimes use the incorrect word particularly when writing. The purpose of this blogpost is to make the differences clear and give you a couple of good examples to help you remember the differences!

Firstly, affect (/əˈfɛkt/) is usually a verb and effect (/ɪˈfɛkt/) is usually a noun. As you can see the pronunciation of these two words is very slightly different too.

For confusing pairs of words like these, it’s sometimes useful to use a mnemonic to aid our memory…so here goes:

When something affects something it has an effect on it.

Have a go at memorising the sentence above. If you can keep it in your mind, you can always recall the meaning of affect and effect by remembering that the word affect comes first in the alphabet and first in this example sentence whereas effect would be next alphabetically and in the last part of this sentence.

Here are some other examples of these two words in use:

Drinking coffee every day is really affecting my sleep.
I hope that drinking less coffee will have a positive effect on my sleep.

Climate change affects us all.
One of the effects of climate change is the increase of extreme weather events.

What effect has the sun had on the colour of this dress?
The Sun has affected the boldness of the colour; it has faded.

So the main difference in the most common use of these two verbs is that affect is usually used as a verb and effect is usually used as a noun. However, there are always exceptions and here are some additional uses:


  1. To move, to touch (emotionally)

The letter he sent me really affected me. (It made me feel something)

  1. To simulate/ to pretend

He affected an American accent in the TV interview.


  1. To give the sense/feel of something, a noun
    The lighting on stage gave the effect of sunrise.
  2. As a verb, to bring about something (usually a change)
    Hopefully the new leader will effect the change we’ve been waiting for!

Check out these helpful pronunciation examples from Collins for affect and effect and for overall advice about how to improve your pronunciation, watch Hannah’s clip.

Hopefully this is useful for you or maybe you have a particular way of remembering the difference between affect and effect – let us know in the comments. Similarly, do let us know if you have any other grammar questions you’d like us to help you with via our blogposts – just leave a comment below.