I a bit confuse on these two words. As far I know:

Affect means to influence or to produce a change in something.

Effect means the result of a change.

To make sure I understand their differences correctly, I came up with these examples:

  1. Will my app get effected if this line of code get removed?
  2. Will this changes affect my code?

Are these example correct?


No, they should be:

  1. Will my app be affected if this line of code gets removed?
  2. Will these changes affect my code?

Part of the confusion may be that effect can be used as a noun or a verb; affect can only (usually)1 be used as a verb.

  • effect as a noun - Refers to how something is changed or behaves differently as a result of an action. "All actions have an effect."
  • effect as a verb - Means to cause something to happen. "Activists want to effect change in policy."
  • affect (only a verb) - Means to change, alter or have an impact on something else. "Changes in policy affect all of us."

1 "Affect" can be used as a noun, but this usage is very rare. As a learner it's probably best not to worry about this.

  • 3
    Taking it one step further, and applying your facts to the OP's examples, we could say: What effect will these changes have on my code?
    – J.R.
    Jul 12 '19 at 17:33

As mentioned by TypeIA, both Affect and Effect can be either a verb or a noun, depending on usage. However, Effect (verb) is very uncommon and Affect (noun) is almost nonexistent (I have never actually seen it used outside of examples). For now, I would suggest ignoring them entirely; they will just complicate things and make it all more confusing. So, for the time being, just remember that Effect=Noun ("a sound effect") and Affect=Verb ("bad speakers affect the sound").

Keep in mind: only verbs can change tense, so Affected and Affecting are both valid, but Effected and Effecting are not. On the other hand, nouns can be counted, so "an effect", "3 effects", "any effect", "all the effects", etc. work just fine, but you cannot have "3 affects". If you are unsure, see if you can modify the sentence a bit to use one of the above examples and it should become more clear.

Incorrect "What affect will removing this line of code have on my app?" -> "What affects [plural] will removing this line of code have on my app?" (oh no! Affect cannot be plural!)

Correct "What effect will removing this line of code have on my app?" -> "What effects [plural] will removing this line of code have on my app?" (ah, much better!)

Incorrect: "Will these changes effect my code?" -> "These changes effected my code!" (whoops! Effected isn't a word! (sort of...))

Correct: "Will these changes affect my code?" -> "These changes affected my code!" (yay! It works!)

  • 2
    I've heard affect as a noun in psychology (e.g. "flat affect"), but it's a technical term and not something the average layperson will encounter. OTOH, effect as a verb is not all that rare, although certainly rarer than the two usages you describe. But effect-as-a-noun has a totally different meaning, so I don't imagine it's particularly helpful to avoid learning it.
    – Kevin
    Jul 12 '19 at 22:00
  • @Kevin I think it is important to learn one step at a time. We are taught "I before E" first, because it covers most of the cases we will encounter early on. Then we learn "except after C" followed by "and in cases of 'ay' as in 'neighbor' and 'weigh'". Getting all the variations and exceptions thrown at you at once can be overwhelming and discouraging. I am not trying to suggest that it is beneficial to pretend they don't exist at all, but rather to not worry about the edge cases when starting out.
    – WillRoss1
    Jul 12 '19 at 22:43
  • 1
    Actually, they don't teach that any more. I really don't see the benefit in pretending that a perfectly good word does not exist.
    – Kevin
    Jul 12 '19 at 22:45

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