Effect versus Affect

Effect versus Affect – A Guide to these Commonly Confused Words

In writing, it is quite easy for many people to confuse the words affect and effect with one another. These are considered to be among the most “commonly confused words.”

Here are some great tips to help you learn the difference between these words:


The term affect is considered to be an active word, one that has a direct impact on something else. It is generally used as a verb, so this may help you better identify when and where to use it.

  • Most commonly a verb
  • Can be considered “active”
  • One force is “affecting” another force


  • The sun is affecting my garden.
  • The heavy winds are affecting the boat’s course.
  • This political climate is affecting my ability to concentrate.
  • An improperly executed word affects the meaning of the sentence.


The term effect is considered to be a passive word, one that has been impacted by something else. It is generally used as a noun, but may sometimes be a passive verb.

  • Most commonly a noun, except when a passive verb
  • Can be considered “passive”
  • One force has been “effected” by another force.


  • The sun has a negative effect on my delicate flowers.
  • The effect of the winds caused the boat to go off course.
  • Politics have effected my ability to concentrate.
  • An improperly executed word has a bad effect on the meaning of the sentence.



Practice Quiz

Now you practice! Should this be effect or affect? (May need to conjugate the verb with a -ed or -ing)

  1. A lack of water has had a bad _____ on my plants.
  2. My plants are  _____ by underwatering.
  3. The _____ of sand on my skin was irritating.
  4. The sand ______ my skin badly.
  5. What _____ does the use of cursing have on children?
  6. Children are _____ by constant cursing.
  7. His speech had a powerful _____ on the audience.
  8. His moving speech _____the audience.
  9. The _____ of smoking on the lungs is well-documents.
  10. Scientists have proven that smoking negatively _____ lung capacity.





(answer key: 1. effect, 2. affected, 3. effect, 4. affected, 5. effect, 6. affected, 7. effect, 8. affects, 9. effect, 10. affects)


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Jenny Mark

Jenny Mark is a graduate of California State University of San Bernardino and lives in Southern California. She is a part time professor for Baker College, Southern New Hampshire University, Vista College, and Baker College. She teachs composition, creative writing, and essential college skills. Check out her blog at http://jennysuemark.com

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