Among the pairs of words that writers often confuse, affect and effect might be the most perplexing, perhaps because their meanings are so similar.
Affect, derived from affectus, from the Latin word afficere, “to do something to, act on,” is easily conflated with effect, borrowed from Anglo-French, ultimately stemming from the Latin word effectus, from efficere, “to bring about.”
What’s the difference between affect and effect?
Affect is usually a verb, meaning to influence or act upon. Example:
The loss of his father affected him profoundly.
Effect is usually a noun, meaning the result of an action. Example:
What will be the effect of closing Main Street?
Below you will find less-common meanings and related or derivative words.
The various senses of affect, each followed by a sentence demonstrating them, follow:
A noun meaning “mental state”: “In his report, the psychiatrist, noting his lack of expression or other signs of emotion, described his affect as flat.” A verb meaning “to produce an effect, to influence”: “I knew that my opinion would affect her choice, so I deliberately withheld it.” A verb meaning “to pretend” or “to put on”: “She tried to affect an air of nonchalance, though she was visibly agitated.”
Words with affect as the root, followed by their use in a sentence, include the following:
Affectation: A noun meaning “self-conscious behavior”: “The girl’s affectationof sophisticated maturity was undercut by the relentless snapping of her chewing gum.” Affection: A noun meaning “kind or loving emotion”: “Her grandfather’s deep affection for her was obvious in his heartwarming smile.” Disaffected: An adjective meaning “discontented, rebellious”: “Disaffectedyouth dismayed by the poor job market and the larger issue