"Influence" has two main connotations that "affect" doesn't.

The first is that of relation to process rather than state, so that something might affect a rock but rarely would circumstances arise where we could speak of that rock being influenced.

The second, and weaker, connotation is of emotive response being involved; this is probably the connotation that makes it feel less appropriate to use in reference to a bike's performance. (We do speak of mechanistic processes being influenced, though, especially complex ones.) -- What is the difference between "affect" and "influence"?

Would you please explain these explanations more readily? I am much too confused to differentiate between these.


2 Answers 2


The short version:
"Influence" implies a decision; "affect" does not.
"Influence" implies emotion, "affect" does not.

The slightly longer version:
When you "affect" something, it means that you have made it change.
Conversely, when you "influence" something, it means that you have altered its behavior: things without behavior, such as rocks, cannot be influenced.
There are a few more complications - for example, when you "affect" a person, there is an associated idiom that means that you have changed their emotions in a particular way - but these are relatively minor considerations, I think.

  • That's not correct. You can say "this policy affected their decision". Mar 23, 2023 at 16:07
  • That's explicit, not implicit. In that context the two are synonyms w/re decision presence. Mar 23, 2023 at 16:55

Wow. That's the most convoluted explanation of those two words I've ever seen... not that I've seen many that compare and contrast those two words.

Generally, when you talk about how something "affects" you, you're talking about its direct impact on you or your circumstances. For instance, if a bad economy forces you to take the bus because you need to save the money you'd normally spend on gas, you'd say that the economy is affecting you in a bad way.

Influence is a word used, most often, between people or groups of people. It implies that you have been convinced or somehow moved to do something on your own initiative instead of being impacted or forced to do something. If you listened to Motorhead in your youth and you're now a heavy metal musician, you might say that Motorhead influenced you in a big way. They did not affect your life because listening to Motorhead did not have any direct consequences; you chose to become a heavy metal musician.

Hope that helps.

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