When we were in grade school, we learned how to scribble our first sentences. We began studying how to use nouns (people, places, and things) and how to use verbs (actions performed by those people, places, and things).

As we became sophisticated writers, we branched out from simple sentence structures. But even with our skills, we often confuse words, especially nouns and verbs.

One very good example of this is “effect” versus “affect.”

The difference between effect vs. affect

According to Merriam-Webster, affect (the verb) produces “a material influence upon or alteration in,” while effect (the noun) focuses on “a change that results when something is done or happens.” Basically, a person, place, or thing does something (affect) to provide a result (effect).

Here’s a real-world business example of effect versus affect:

  • Increasing website traffic can affect how well you convert customers.
  • Increasing website traffic has an effect on conversion rates.

Affect vs Effect

Phonetic mix-ups cause confusion

Part of the affect/effect mix-up is due to their “phonetic similarity.” In other words, they sound alike.

If that weren’t enough, affect can be used as a noun, while effect does justice as a verb.

Affect, as a noun, is found in the field of psychology, defined as “a set of observable manifestations of an experienced emotion . . .” And, the action-oriented effect (which isn’t used all that often) means “to cause to come into being” or “accomplish.”

Usage rule to remember

The confusion is real, but not insurmountable. To get around it, simply remember the following.

  • Affect is a verb
  • Effect is a noun
  • They are not interchangeable

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