Her affect was affecting her ability to effect the best effect.

“Her affect was affecting her ability to effect the best effect.” Now there’s a tricky sentence for anyone struggling with the differences between affect and effect! Let’s unpack it.

The first option, of course, would be to rephrase the whole thing to avoid having to use either affect or effect: “Her mood was influencing her ability to bring about the best result.” Sure, you can get away with that sometimes (and in this case changing a few of the a/effects would be welcome!), but sometimes a/effect really is the best word for the job. And in those instances, you’ll need to know which to use.

  • Most of the time, affect is a verb meaning something like to influence.
  • Most of the time, effect is a noun meaning something like a result.

My easy way to remember these is to think “thE Effect.” Most of the time, when you can put “the” in front of it, you should be using the noun effect and when you can’t put “the” in front of it, you should be using the verb affect.

But most of the time won’t get you the right answer every time. There are rarer meanings of affect and effect that switch the verb and noun roles!

  • Rarely (unless you’re in psychology or related fields like Affective Neuroscience), affect is a noun relating to mood or emotion.
  • Rarely, effect is a verb meaning something like bring about (and it’s usually accompanied by “change”).

So the bottom line is you can use the “thE Effect” trick to get the right a/effect most of the time. (If that particular mnemonic doesn’t work for you, check out Grammar Girl’s here.) And, unless you’re a psychologist who should know better, if you accidentally slip up on one of the rare cases, I won’t even be upset.

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