Using vocabulary precisely in IELTS is very important for getting a high score in lexical resource. Affect and effect are often used incorrectly even by native speakers!
Let’s look at the difference between these and how can they be used in a sentence accurately.
They are not exactly synonyms, they are homophones, which means they sound the same but are spelt differently. There are some exceptions when affect can be used as a verb or effect used as a noun, but generally speaking, these are the rules below:
Affect is a verb – Effect is a noun
Affect (verb) = to have an influence on something.
Train delays affect all passengers.
The weather really affects his moods.
Looking at your iPhone in the dark affects your eyesight.
Online gaming is negatively affecting many young peoples minds.
Youngsters are affected by what they watch on TV.
A synonym of ‘affect’ is ‘ influence’. These 2 sentences below have the same meaning:
The weather affects his moods.
The weather influences his moods.
However, be careful with this as this second sentence below is strange.
Right: Smoking affects our health.
Wrong: Smoking influences our health.
The second sentence above just doesn’t sound right to a native speaker but I could say this:
Smoking negatively influences our health.
Effect (noun) = the impact of something or a result/outcome.
The word ‘effect’ is always preceded by an article (an or the)
- Sunny weather has a positive effect on his moods.
- Weather patterns are changing due to the effect of climate change.
- The poorer members of society felt the effects of the government’s radical welfare reforms.
- The effect of the medicine left him feeling very drowsy.
- Have you noticed any effects since you stopped drinking coffee?
Synonyms of ‘effect’ are ‘outcome’ or ‘consequence’ but like all synonyms, be careful how you use them, as in the second sentence below.
Right: The effect of the medicine left him feeling very drowsy.
Wrong: The consequence of the medicine left him feeling very drowsy.
Effect change (verb phrase)
In this case the word ‘effect’ is a verb phrase, however, ‘effect change’ is often misspelt as ‘affect change’. To
effect change is a common phrase which means to bring about changes or cause a change.
- Concerning global warming, many people believe their actions can effect change.
- The protestors demonstrated against corruption to effect change in the government.
- It is impossible to effect change if you take no action.
Are these sentences right or wrong?
To see how to use the words look at them in context, which of these sentences are incorrect?
1. We were going to have a picnic but the weather effected our plans
2. The news of the accident really effected him.
3. The workers wanted to effect change so they joined the union and went on strike.
4. It will take a few years to see what the effect will be of the recent education policy changes.
5. Spending a long time looking at smartphones and tablets negatively effects our eyesight.
6. The affect of the accident left him unable to walk.
7. Exposure to strong sunlight effects the skin over the long term causing premature skin ageing.
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