If it’s a verb, it’s probably “affect”

Here is a screen caption from a recent MSNBC newscast:


The caption writer needed “affect” here, of course. One way to remember this is that “affect” is almost always used as a verb and you can remember “affect” with “the a means action.” It would be better, though, to know the difference in meaning. “Affect” means to influence or to have an effect upon; “effect” as a verb means to create or to bring about or to accomplish, as in “We wish to effect [bring about] a change in consumers’ attitudes.”

Take this link to the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University for a good explanation (scroll down just a bit). Or go to Professor Paul Brians’ explanation. Grammar Girl has a funny cartoon to explain “affect/effect.”

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.