Grammar Common Spelling Mistakes 2022-06-24 00:00

Affected vs Effected: What's the Difference?

affected vs effected

Affect and effect are some of the most commonly confused words out there. So it makes sense that affected and effected are confusing, too.

To put it simply:

Affected means that something was influenced or changed (e.g. the lyrics affected him).

Effected means that something was brought about or facilitated (e.g. she effected the proposed changes).

There are a few more uses, rules, and exceptions. Keep reading to make sure you're using the right word for your context.

I’ve got no doubt that you’ve got what it takes to unravel the not-so-mysterious-mystery of affected and effected.

Ready to prove me right?

  1. What Does Affect Mean?
  2. What Does Effect Mean?
  3. How Do You Use Affected vs Effected?
  4. Affected and Effected are Past Tense Verbs
  5. Affected vs Effected
  6. How to Use Affected as an Adjective

What Does Affect Mean?

Affected and effected are the past tense forms of the verbs affect and effect.

But affect and effect aren’t only verbs. They can also be nouns, and this changes their meaning.

Before we look into the past tense uses of the verb forms, we should take a moment to become affect/effect experts.

To use any of these words correctly, we need to understand what each of the forms means and does, and their appropriate contexts.

Affect As a Noun

Affect can be used as a noun. In that form, it refers to the expression or observation of an emotional response. More simply stated, it refers to how a person’s facial expression reveals their feelings.

For example, a person who has just won the lottery will have a positive, joyful affect—with a smile that reaches their eyes.

A person who is depressed or lonely may have a more unhappy or flat affect, with empty eyes and a downturned mouth.

Affect As a Verb

Affect can also be used as a verb that means to influence , to make a difference to, or to move someone emotionally.

  • Studying hard and submitting your work on time will positively affect your GPA.
  • The snow accumulation will affect the morning commute.
  • The sad song may affect you emotionally and make you cry.

Image showing affect as a noun or verb

The verb affect carries additional definitions, though they are not used as frequently as the previous definitions.

Affect as a verb can also mean to pretend or put on a phony act, or to wear something.

  • He affected an accent to try to convince people he was French.
  • She affected the ballroom gown of a fairy-tale princess.

The verb affect, specifically when it means to influence or to move someone emotionally, is more commonly used than the noun.

What Does Effect Mean?

Like affect, effect can take the form of a noun or a verb.

Effect As a Noun

In its noun form, an effect is a result or an outcome. It’s part of the cause-effect relationship.

  • The car accident was an effect of icy roads.
  • Exercise has a positive effect on my energy level.
  • Consuming too much sugar has a negative effect on my health.

Effect As a Verb

As a verb, (to) effect means to bring about or to facilitate change:

  • I’m going to effect measures to ensure a safe and fair competition.
  • The traffic jam will effect a change in our meeting time.

Image showing effect as a noun or verb

While affect is more commonly used as a verb than a noun, effect is more commonly used as a noun than a verb.

So what does any of this information have to do with affected and effected? Those are the words you’re investigating, right?

Read on and rest assured that your knowledge of affect and effect won’t be wasted; it will serve as a foundation on which to build your understanding of affected and effected.

How Do You Use Affected vs Effected?

Pop review quiz!

  1. What does affect, the verb, mean?

  2. What does effect, the verb, mean?

I’ll bet you got both answers correct, which will make this next part simple. (Answers: 1. affect = to influence; 2. effect = to bring about)

Affected and Effected are Past Tense Verbs

Adding the -ed ending to affect and effect takes those verbs into the past.

Affected and effected are the past tense forms of those verbs. Affected is much more commonly used than effected in their verb forms and has more varied contexts.

Affected means influenced, prompted a response or reaction, or caused a change.

Image showing meaning of affected

  • The music affected him emotionally.
  • The area was negatively affected by poverty.
  • They studied so hard and all of their efforts affected their grades in the most positive way!
  • Pat accidentally used baking soda instead of baking powder, which affected the texture of the cake.

Effected means brought about or facilitated. Contexts for effected often relate to laws, change, or measures:

  • The new principal effected changes to the school’s disciplinary system.
  • He effected measures to improve his health: he ate more fruits and vegetables and started exercising.
  • The dictator assumed control of the country and effected new laws immediately.
  • Throughout history, music, art, and literature have both effected and reflected cultural movements.

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Now you know everything you need to know about affected and effected.

Well, almost.

Affected can also be used as an adjective. But we’ll save that discussion for after the verb examples.

More Examples of the Verb Affected

Here are some real-world examples of the verb affected in action.

  • Prognosis: Cancers Not Affected by Emotional Health. Nicholas Bakalar

  • More than 3.6 million people across Central America have been affected to varying degrees, according to the Red Cross. Matt Rivers; Natalie Gallon

  • Kristin Ewing, a student from Nebraska by way of a musical-theater career in New York, gained an interest in health-care policy when she saw how performers were affected by their lack of insurance. Susan Svrluga

More Examples of the Verb Effected

Image showing the meaning of effected](![Image showing the meaning of effected

Here are some real-world examples of the verb effected in use.

  • Although I had no experience in capital markets at the time, his words set me on that path and away from public policy. And I saw that I could effect change without being a politician. Ellen Rosen

  • At a time when cascading events are making some students feel helpless, and when isolation can be overwhelming, a class at Georgetown University Law Center highlights people who effected important change, with an emphasis on community, social impact and the common good. Susan Svrluga

  • The flaming trench has effected a temporary halt in the fighting, as the wights stand motionless just beyond it. Glen Weldon

NOTE and TIP: these sound-alike words even trick the pros sometimes! I found several examples of affected and effected used incorrectly on some reputable and popular websites.

Affected vs Effected

Image showing test for effected vs affected

Let’s see if you do even better than the professionals. Should affect or effect fill in the blank?

  1. Your arguments have not _ _ _ _ _ my opinion.

  2. All the cat hair _ _ _ _ _ his allergies.

  3. She _ _ _ _ _ more change than any other leader.

  4. He _ _ _ _ _ such loyalty among the players on his team.

  5. The poet’s words _ _ _ _ _ me deeply.

  6. Was the dog’s behavior positively _ _ _ _ _ by the training session?

  7. The teacher _ _ _ _ _ a classroom reward system to encourage kindness.

  8. Their financial situation was _ _ _ _ _ by the recession.

  9. The use of fossil fuels has _ _ _ _ _ the climate.

  10. The use of fossil fuels and destroying forests has _ _ _ _ _ climate change. (This one is tricky!)

  11. I was truly _ _ _ _ _ by the demonstration of kindness from strangers.

  12. We were all _ _ _ _ _ by the virus.

  13. They _ _ _ _ _ surprise even though they had discovered the plans for the party.

  14. They _ _ _ _ _ reform through their peaceful protests.

15.  He _ _ _ _ _ a tuxedo and slicked back hair, and looked like an old-time Hollywood star.

Answers: 1. Affected 2. Affected 3. Effected 4. Effected 5. Affected 6. Affected 7. Effected 8. Affected 9. Affected 10. See note below  11. Affected 12. Affected 13. Affected 14. Effected 15. Affected

TRICKY #10: Either affected or effected could fill this blank! The answer depends on intent. You could logically say:

The use of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests has brought about (effected) climate change.

You could also logically say:

The use of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests has influenced or made a difference regarding (affected) climate change.

How to Use Affected as an Adjective

The English language loves to keep its users on their toes. Affected the adjective is just one of many such examples. Sometimes, English just feels mean. But no worries—we’re smarter than English is mean and can take on this additional face of affected!

Adjectives modify (describe or provide more information about) a noun or pronoun.

They answer the questions: What kind? How many? Which / Which ones?

As an adjective, affected answers those questions by taking on one of these possible meanings, depending on the context.

  1. Insincere or unnatural—phony.

  2. Acted upon (not always, but usually, in a harmful way).

Examples of Affected Used as an Adjective

Image showing affected as an adjective

  1. She was trying way too hard to impress the “cool crowd.” She used affected speech and gestures, but didn’t fool anybody. (Affected modifies “speech and gestures,” and answers what kind of acts.)

  2. Put a bandage on the affected body part. (Affected modifies “body part” and answers which body part.)

  3. The shopping complex really changed the area. The most affectedcity was Nowheretown. (Affected modifies “city” and answers which one of the cities in the area.)

  4. Those affected by the changes are likely to move. (Affected modifies “those” and answers which of those.)

  5. Affected staff members will have the day off tomorrow. (Affected modifies “staff” and answer which staff members.)

Has this post affected your understanding of affected and effected in a positive way?

I hope the explanations and examples have effected that outcome! When you need to use one of these two words, pay attention to what form you need and the context.

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