The affect versus effect confusion still reigns supreme as the most consistently asked question in my grammar classes. Here is my latest take on this confusing pair.
This time, I'll ignore the rarer definitions of these two words: effect as a verb and affect as the noun for emotional state. If you are working on text that has those more obscure usages, then you probably have no trouble with effect versus affect in their more common states.
Here are the most common ways to use these words along with memory aids to help you get the right one in to the right sentence.
Effect is a noun. It is an end result. Think of the e for end result.
Affect means to alter your life in some way: Will the sequester affect me? If you can substitute "alter my life" for the word affect, then the letter a is correct.
- What was the (affect/effect) of the furlough on morale in the office?
- The flood in the Philippines (affected/effected) the families of some of my colleagues.
- How will the delay in accounts receivable (affect/effect) my rent payment?
- When will we feel the (affects/effects) of the up-turn in the economy?
- Will the dog's habit of staying up all night (affect/effect) the baby's sleep?
- The rainy weather has had a great (affect/effect) on the corn crop this year.
Too Easy? Try this advanced challenge:
- What was the (affect/effect) of the defendant when he heard the verdict?
- The new manager (affected/effected) some changes in the dress code that many of us appreciated.
- A nurse must take into account a patient's (affect/effect) before deciding on the best approach.
- We (affected/effected) the new policies last month.