This is a problem I took from my exercise book:

Choose the correct word to complete the sentences. Sometimes both are correct.

Advertising is so powerful that it (causes/affects) people to buy things they don't want.

At first, I thought both were correct. Then I checked on the key answer and turned out my answer was incorrect (the answer is causes). I looked up the word in the dictionary and I noticed that there was no example that showed affect is followed by a clause rather than subject or predicate.

Does it mean, it is incorrect to use a clause after affect? Or what?

1 Answer 1


Some examples from Google Books with a clause after affect:

to indirectly affect how students think or feel about school

But our genes ... affect whether we generally view the world positively or negatively.

...should not affect whether we can do surveillance...

...there are current policies that affect whether children will need care

Here's a possible use of affect similar to your example:

Advertising is so powerful that it affects how people buy things.

Advertising affects people so much that they buy things they don't need.

The example you gave needs a word that means causes directly. Here's another word that does that:

Advertising makes people buy things.

  • Is affect analogous to influence? According to the dictionary. Influence can be also used to show the effect of something. From my understanding after reading your answer, could I confirm that cause is to make people (forcefully/they don't want it) and affect is to influence people (they do willingly)?
    – user516076
    Sep 9, 2021 at 3:32
  • 1
    Yes, you could put influence in all the examples with affect. But, I don't think cause means that people don't want to do something. You can cause people to change their minds... make them change their minds... by influencing/affecting how they think. Sep 9, 2021 at 3:41

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