"Affect" vs. "Effect"
I must begin today's edition with a shameful confession: I re-read an email I sent last week and realized, with mounting horror and shame, that I had used "effect" where I should've used "affect." It was a moment of inexcusable grammatical recklessness, rectifiable only by public humiliation ("blogging" is the new "flogging"). So, today I will use my disgrace to explain the correct usage to all of you, and hammer this lesson home to myself so I sound like less of a retard (ri-tahrd) when I write.
The simple version is this: "affect" is a verb; "effect" is a noun. When you affect something, what you've done is the effect. It may be helpful to remember that "Affect" is the "A"ction, while "Effect" is the "E"nd result. Here are some examples to illustrate:
- Kim Kardashian impersonating Elizabeth Taylor negatively affected me.
- The effect of Kim K's impersonation was to make me vomit angrily.
- Remember that time Kim K cried over her lost earring? You shouldn't have such expensive personal effects if you're going to go swimming in them like an idiot.
- Kim K's affection for being filmed with having intercourse with rappers should not be forgotten.
|Um, Kim, it's "Tuesdays with Morrie;" it's not possessive. And your dad got O.J. off.|
This concept alone is not too terribly difficult, and it makes sense that there would be different words to convey the same idea through different parts of speech. (In fact, in Spanish, "afectar" a verb and "efecto" a noun.) But, because English is a language that relishes taunting and confusing its poor speakers, there are two "rare," or as I prefer to call them, "asshole" uses of these words that bear mentioning:
- "Effect" can be an asshole if you're using it as a synonym for "bring about." This is almost always accompanied by "change" in the idiom "effect change." So, if you G-chat your friend and say, "I think Bobby is really going to effect some change on our beer Olympics team," and your friend says "you mean 'affect' some change," and you say, "no I don't," you're right. But you're also an asshole. And I bet your friend Bobby is, too.
- "Affect" can be an asshole if you're using it as psychology jargon, as in "she displayed an irritated affect." This is a pretentious way of saying "she looked irritated." And she's probably irritated because you're using "affect" like an asshole.
Until next time,
The Strunk and White Girls
*Grammar is intentionally spelled incorrectly to parody ironically incorrect use of the word. Don't be a douchenozzle and try to point out that we spelled it wrong.