Lesson Summary 

More confusing English words EXPLAINED!
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EFFECT and AFFECT!
Though they sound the same (or very similar) when spoken, they have different uses.

The meaning of each word is similar – they both talk about something changing another thing.
Though, they are different TYPES of words.
‘Effect’ is usually a noun.
‘Affect’ is usually a verb.

This lesson will help you understand the difference AND give you a few useful tips to help you use them correctly!

CLICK HERE to read the full lesson transcript.

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Video Transcript
Section 1
Hello, I’m Emma from mmmEnglish! If you’re new, welcome to my English-learning channel! If you’ve been watching for a while and you haven’t subscribed yet, go ahead and do it! All you need to do is click the red button down there to keep up-to-date with all of my lessons here.

This lesson today is one that I wanted to make for you and that I needed to make for me! And many of the other native English speakers out there, who mess up these words!

The difference between the word ‘effect‘ and ‘affect‘.

They sound almost exactly the same when they’re spoken naturally. Effect and affect. In both words, the stress is on the second syllable so the unstressed syllable at the start of each word, it sounds pretty similar, even though they’re different vowel letters. So it’s not easy to hear the difference between them when you’re listening.

If I say affect and effect, you can hear the difference. But that’s not how these words are spoken naturally. And the meaning of these words is also very similar. They both talk about something changing another thing but they are different types of words.

Effect is usually a noun and affect is usually a verb.

Now I say usually because there are times when affect is a noun and effect is a verb but most of the time, you’ll see effect as a noun and affect as a verb. See how confusing these two little words are for us? I say us because these two words even confuse me sometimes. I make this mistake too and many native English speakers make this mistake. Many, many of them and much, much more often than you think! And much more often than they think, as well! So this video is important for all of us.

I can tell you with a decent amount of confidence that at least half of the native English speakers that I know sometimes make this mistake by accident but it’s really, really common in emails.

Affect

So let’s go over all of this together now, starting with affect, the verb. The verb affect means to change something, to influence something or to impact on something. So try to remember that the a in affect stands for action so it needs to be a verb.

Long flights can affect your blood circulation.
The weather affected the outcome of the football match.

Her illness will affect her examination results.

So in all of these examples, affect is a verb.

Effect

Effect is a synonym of change and influence. So one thing is changing or influencing another thing.

My savings – so that’s the money that I save – my savings affect where I travel. When I have a lot of savings, I go abroad for my holidays. When I don’t have a lot of savings, I go on short trips near my home, often to visit friends. The amount of money that I have saved influences where I go for my holidays.

Okay now effect, the noun. So this is the experience of the action, the result of the change.

Warm weather always has a positive effect on my mood.
The community felt the effects of the financial crisis.
Have you noticed any effects since you changed your diet?

In all of these examples, effect is a noun and you can see that it’s a noun from the structure in these sentences.

Effect is a synonym of result of consequence. If something affects you, you will feel the effect of the change.

Okay, compare these two sentences:

The storm affected the local community.

(The action happened to the community)

The community saw the effects of the tropical storm.

(The community saw the result of the storm)

But as usual, the English language would not make it so simple for you, would it? Be aware that effect is also sometimes used as a verb particularly in fixed expressions such as to effect change.

So in this expression, effect is actually a verb and it means to produce something or to cause something.

The government needs to affect change or else the community will lose confidence in them to lead.

Now it’s unusual or less common for effect to be a verb but it’s possible, it does happen, particularly in fixed expressions like this. But try not to get too stuck on this, okay? These words can be hard to tame for all of us.

So, remember that most of the time, affect is a verb – a for action. And effect is a noun most of the time.

Although these words are tricky to master, I hope that I’ve given you a couple of helpful tips to improve your writing, whether you’re learning English as a second language or if you’re a native English speaker who needs to brush up on some of that grammar. It’s easy to get complacent.

Before we finish, I’ve got a few questions that you can practise with. I want you to choose whether effect or affect is the correct word in these sentences, starting here.

Some of the _______ of this medication are sleep loss and headaches.

Is it effect or affect? Effect. The effects. The article tells us that it must be a noun.

Will the new rules ________ us too?

Affect or effect? Affect. The structure of the sentence tells us that it must be a verb.

I hope the weather doesn’t ________ your plans today. Aren’t you going to the beach?

Affect. Again the structure of the sentence is telling us that we need a verb.

We’ll create a greater _______ if we call a strike and don’t go to work tomorrow.

Affect or effect? It’s effect. A greater effect. So the article tells us that it must be a noun.

How did you go?

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And keep watching, keep learning right here with some of my other English lessons. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next week for sure. Bye for now!

mmmEnglish Video Lessons are a series of video lessons created to build confidence in English learners and focus on English in daily life. Download them and watch them anywhere! Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to be the first to get my new videos, and come and say hi on my Facebook page!!