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Friday, March 06, 2009
"I hope to have an affect on readers by effecting their grammar."

Hopefully, by the end of this post, you will understand the errors in that sentence.

Affect and effect are two of the trickiest words in the English language; partly because of their similar-sounding pronunciation, and partly due to the fact that they each mean more than one thing. Aff-ECT means "have an influence on," OR it means to put on an unnatural air (like a fake accent). AFF-ect, on the other hand, is used to refer to the emotions exhibited by people ("her affect was melancholy"). So a singer could affect the audience by including a bluesy affect to her vocals.

If you're not confused yet, we still have to deal with effect, which has two meanings and is routinely misspelled or confused with affect. The more common use of the word effect is as a noun ("This brown bean dish could have an effect on me later"), but it can also be used as a verb meaning "to create" ("I would like to effect a change in my eating habits"). Obviously, it can be quite confusing discerning between affect and effect. A general rule of thumb is to use effect when it's a noun (except in reference to emotion) and affect when it's a verb (except when it means "to create").

Thus, if we return to the opening phrase of this post, you will notice that I have switched the two terms and used them both incorrectly.

All of the following sentences are correct:

"I would enjoy effecting a change to your daily routine."
"I would enjoy affecting your daily routine."
"I would enjoy having an effect on your daily routine."


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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »