Wrong Word Wednesday

Wrong Word Wednesday #23

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television

Affect / Effect

Of course they differ in only one letter and therefore their pronunciations are very similar. They actually do mean quite similar things too – they refer to actions, so naturally a lot of people get this rather simple one confused. It seems that affect is the most searched for word on dictionary sites so the confusion is very common.

Affect (verb) – To cause or to influence. Politicians campaigns before elections are an attempt to affect the way you vote.
Effect (noun) – The result of something. Drunkenness is a well known effect of consuming too much alcohol

The real confusion, I think, is when effect is used as a verb. In this case it means to bring something about (which is similar to the “affect” verb)

Effect (verb) – Protests in Egypt effected the overthrow of the Mubarak regime. To use “affect” would suggest that it was already happening but was changed by the protests. “Effected” means that the protests was the cause of the overthrow of the Mubarak regime.

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3 thoughts on “Wrong Word Wednesday #23

  1. This is one of the worst for my dyslexia, as both words have exactly the same “profile” unlike many other homophones. For many of us dyslexics these two are completely indistinguishable. I can only tell which it is if I hide the rest of the word, even then the differing meanings are similar enough to require concentration…

    1. I’m not dyslexic and even I sometimes have to stop and think, especially when using “effect” as in the final example.

      Thanks for the explanation!

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