What is the difference between the words affect and effect?

Expert Answers
cburr eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both affect and effect can be used as a verb or noun.

Affect - noun

In this case, affect refers to how someone appears to be feeling. For example:

The bored boy had a very flat affect.

Affect - verb

There are really two meanings of affect as a verb. The most common is to influence or have an impact on something:

Staying up all night will affect your performance on the test.

The other meaning of the verb affect is to pretend something:

The actor will have to affect a Southern accent.

Effect - noun

An effect is a result of some cause. For example,

The effect of your meanness was that Susie cried.

Effect - verb

When used as a verb, effect means to make something happen:

The computer committee will effect the switch from PCs to Macs.

parkerlee eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most common uses of these two words are as follows:

'Affect' (verb) means 'influence' and 'effect' (noun) means 'result' or 'consequence.'

example: How does secondary smoking affect non-smokers' health?  One effect, especially in young children, is a sharp increase in chronic infections and pulmonary disorders.