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Special Grammar Post: Explains the difference between Affect and Effect

Directions: The sentence has been divided into four parts. Identify the part of the sentence which contains a grammar or usage error.

(a) Countries that have
(b) border disputes must try
(c) to affect better solutions
(d) with the help of dialogues and peace talks.

A small lesson in Grammar for you:

This question offers a tremendous insight: it helps you learn the difference between affect and effect. Let’s look at the standard usages for these words first and then we will add some extra tips for you.

In general, effect is used as a noun. As a noun, effect means ‘a change which is a result or consequence of an action or other cause.’ A couple of examples for effect are relevant to the discussion here:

Example 1: The dangerous effects of drugs on the human body are known to everyone.
Example 2: The medicine is known to have side-effects.

In both the examples above, effect functions as a noun.

Affect, on the other hand, is used as a verb. It means ‘to have an influence or to produce a change in something or someone’. A couple of examples for effect are relevant to the discussion here:

Example 1: The storm flooded the region and affected several thousand people.
Example 2: The new rules affect 20% of the student community in the college.

If you carefully note the usage of affect above, you will see that both sentences imply the meaning of affect as impact. This is a handy tip you can remember to differentiate between affect and effect.

Now this completes the standard description for these two words. But there is an exception as well. Effect functions as a verb when it implies the sense to bring about. For example, it is the correct word in phrases such as effect change and effect solutions. In these phrases effect refers to bring about change and to bring about solutions.

In our given sentence, since the above sense is implied, we need to use effect in place of affect. A couple of other examples for this usage are:

  • Plenty of cricketers use their income to effect change and donate to charitable causes.
  • You should not always rush to courts to effect change.

You might be thinking that this Grammar lesson is over but there is one last thing that you need to keep in mind. Affect can also be used and mean to put on a false show of things. For example, you might affect that you are ill when you wish to skip office.

So effectively, we have covered a small lesson in Grammar with the help of this example. Hope you stay tuned for more such questions.

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