I keep getting pulled out of my story because I'm not sure how to use 'affect' and 'effect'. I had it explained by others who claim to know more than us mere mortals when helping my husband with his homework.
Okay, you know, I used to work on a Grammar Hotline, and yes, there was such a thing, back when the phone was the dominant means of communication. :) It was part of the IUPUI writing center, and when we weren't tutoring students (our real job), we were answering this phone.
And the number one question was "Affect or effect?" (Second was lay/lie.) So you're not alone.
It's complicated because usually it's one way, and then (esp. in psychology) it's the opposite.
Affect is the verb, and effect is the noun, and both refer to having an impact on something.
My lovely song affected my listeners, and caused a poignant effect especially on my mother.
Easy enough, huh? Just remember:
...Except they can both mean something else! In psychology, Affect is a noun that means something like "expression" mixed with "experience". (Anyone who has studied this, please correct me if I've got this wrong.) Someone with "low affect" probably doesn't express or maybe experience emotion the way most of us do, so "Jeffrey Dahmer exhibited low affect when he spoke of his murders."
And "effect" can also be a verb, but it doesn't mean "affect" or "cause an effect" exactly then. It means more to cause or make something happen, so "Dr. King effected a great change in the civil rights of our nation." It's a stronger, more "effective," verb than "affect".
So when affect is used as a verb, and effect is used as a noun, they are just different parts of speech meaning the same thing, to influence or cause an impact (though perhaps a little "softer" than impact).
But when affect is used as a noun, or effect is used as a verb, they are really no longer related to each other-- they are different activities. They are each related to the central meaning of impact, but they're sort of like "My sister's brother-in-law" in relationship; he is not MY brother-in-law.
This means, I guess, that you always have to stop and figure out what part of speech or role the word is playing in the sentence (noun or verb), and then whether you are meaning those related but not exact terms (effect-verb, affect-noun).
This is the BEST example of how the part of speech/sentence role is essential with word choice! Thanks!!
Will foreblog this, just because I find it interesting!
(The grammar hotline, alas, is no more. Funding dried up, but more than that, the web kind of took over. Here is a great link:I was looking up e.g./i.e. (YET AGAIN... some things just won't take up residence in my brain-- thank goodness for Google) and came across this helpful site that lists common usage errors (like auger/augur... okay, some NOT so common ones) and explains when to use each. Here's the page where the reasoning is explained.)