An effective guide to the oft-confused ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ in their varied grammatical guises
After seeing “affect” used improperly several times in succession years ago, I photocopied the “AP Stylebook” entry, cut it out, copied it at 200 percent, then doubled its size again, knowingly contributing to deforestation and exacerbating profit declines for the Newhouse family.
Unfortunately, the small act of posting the enlarged affect/effect entry on my desk divider failed to put the issue to a rest. At some point AP updated its entry. It’s now less succinct, but it’s still a good guide. There are many good explanations out there of the correct usage, but affect/effect mix-ups remain a common usage annoyance.
A copy editor friend recently suggested I blog about it. His suggestion came on the heels of another copy editor’s call for help after her brain seized up on the matter.
I did tackle affect/effect in exactly 140 characters one day in a Twitter entry:
“Don’t fear ‘effect’ as a verb. To ‘affect’ is to influence; to ‘effect’ is to bring about. ‘Effect’ something and you can take the credit.”
That, too, failed to put the issue to rest.