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Grammar and Usage

Affect vs. Effect
Principal vs. Principle
Capital vs. Capitol


Affect vs. Effect
A Simple Formula

If you can tell the difference between a noun and a verb, you'll be able to make the correct choice between affect and effect about 99% of the time by simply applying the following formula:

Now compare the following pair of correct sentences using the formula above:

This news will probably affect everyone.
This news will probably have an effect on everyone.

In the first sentence above, a verb is used to convey the meaning of influencing/impacting, so only affect would be correct for that sentence.  But a noun is definitely needed in the second sentence due to its construction.  Thus, according to the formula, only effect would be correct.  It's safe to apply the above formula to any sentence where influencing or impacting is involved.  And thankfully, 99% of effect/affect sentences will express this type of meaning.

It's true:  About 99% of the sentences you'll write will be correct if affect is your verb and effect is your noun.

On those infrequent occasions when effect is used as a verb, its meaning bears no resemblance whatsoever to influencing/impacting.   The rare verb meaning of effect is to bring about or place into existence.

Examples of the rare usage of the verb effect follow:

I once knew someone who said he could make rain fall from a cloudless sky.  He claimed to have the ability to effect rain.

The proponents of the new drug say that it can effect headache relief quickly.

Could a law banning handguns ever be effected nationwide?


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Examples of Affect (verb)
The doctor assured him that his injury would not affect his tennis game.

Does sugar really affect a child's behavior?

Thankfully, his computer was not affected by the virus.
Examples of Effect (noun)
Suppose a person placed an egg in salty water.  What effect would the salt have on the egg?

The caffeine had no effect on me; I was able to fall asleep.

The new law goes into effect in January of next year.