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won’t you be my english teacher?

February 12, 2009

we used to have a jack russell terrier years ago. and honestly, i hated this dog. he was cute the first 4 days, then, he became possessed! πŸ‘Ώ

he was unruly and disobedient. he barked all. the. time. thought our carpet was his personal lawn and he was terrible to take on walks. a friend of ours recommended a shock collar to help in the training process cause beating him wasn’t working. I KID! i didn’t beat him. but we did get the collar. don’t judge me. desperate times call for desperate measures.

anyhoo…each time Jax would disobey he would get a very light, i mean very light, shock. just enough to get his attention. and…it worked!!! we never hurt him, i promise. well, not on purpose. and seriously…i don’t wanta see any hate comments about this.

so i got to thinking about my small huge problem with two words in our english language… Effect and Affect. i never know which one to use. and yesterday on twitter several of you tried to help me out by explaining the differences between the two. um, nice try but it really didn’t stick. maybe i need a shock collar too! because nothing else is helping. what if when each time i am faced with choosing effect or affect, i get a small shock when leaning toward the wrong word. that may be the only answer right about now. unless…

you can help? please…fill the comments with your best explanation of those two words clearly brought to us by satan himself.

and for now, i will use my own version… uhffect.

44 Comments leave one →
  1. Ida Marie permalink
    February 12, 2009 2:51 am

    Affect means:
    – To have an influence on or effect a change in: Inflation affects the buying power of the dollar.
    – To act on the emotions of; touch or move.
    – To attack or infect, as a disease: Rheumatic fever can affect the heart.

    Effect means:
    – Something brought about by a cause or agent; a result.
    – The power to produce an outcome or achieve a result; influence: “The drug had an immediate effect on the pain.” “The government’s action had no effect on the trade imbalance.”
    – A scientific law, hypothesis, or phenomenon: the photovoltaic effect.


    (You don’t know me, I just bumped into your site! and btw, I’m Ida, from Norway:))

  2. February 12, 2009 3:04 am

    Effect = Evolution, end result, E-for effort

    Affect = Affection, emotional impact, A+ for tackling this FF’n word – there are two ff’s in the words

  3. February 12, 2009 4:56 am

    affect = noun (in almost every case)
    effect = verb (in almost every case)

    affect = “to influence” as in: Your post affected me in such a way I was compelled to act.

    effect = “a result” as in: The barrage of explanatory posts had no effect on Tam’s comprehension of the difference between the two words.

    there is also a few OTHER meanings for the two words:

    affect = “to make a display of” as in: I affected indifference, even though my wife called me fat.

    effect = “to create” as in: To effect a change in her comprehension of the words effect and affect Tam asked for her readers to explain the two simply. The effect? We’ll see.

  4. February 12, 2009 4:56 am

    You AFFECT something when u want to change it.

    The EFFECT of something u did is the result of the change.

    ie using Ida’s example above

    Inflation AFFECTS the buying power of the dollar.
    The EFFECT of this is grocery shopping is more expensive.

    Does that help?

  5. February 12, 2009 4:57 am

    Oops, I had my first 2 backwards. I meant to say:

    affect = verb
    effect = noun

    Man…won’t YOU be my english teacher.

  6. February 12, 2009 5:02 am

    What Russ said… the SECOND time. 😯

  7. February 12, 2009 5:12 am

    When you “affect” something, you have an “effect” on it!

  8. February 12, 2009 5:12 am

    BTW, are we going to do principle/principal and capital/capitol next?

  9. February 12, 2009 6:44 am

    I was going to go short and sweet like Russ:

    affect = verb (action)
    effect = noun (thing)

    And…just to be clear…I’m not assuming you don’t know what either a verb or a noun is. I was just trying to make it easy. πŸ™‚

  10. February 12, 2009 7:23 am

    use which ever you want, and the reader will still get it! hahaha seriously I am so sure

  11. Heidi permalink
    February 12, 2009 7:37 am

    While we are on a English debate.

    Can I ask

    When do you use gray or grey?

    Which one is right?

  12. Jim2 permalink
    February 12, 2009 7:38 am

    Darla is amazingly correct – use whichever one you feel like and let your editor earn their keep. You are the creative genius, mundane details can be taken care of by technical dweebs (no offense intended for those who are thus gifted)

  13. February 12, 2009 8:00 am

    darla and jim – you are probably right πŸ™‚ but i get soooo frustrated that i STILL cant easily tell the difference.

    honestly – the two definitions, for me, seem to be too easily interchangeable sometimes. it leaves me so confused.

    heidi – no. stinkin. clue. ive never known that one either.

    pq – well, a refresher course never hurts me. trust me 😯

    mike – dont know much about capitol and capital. but i do know that the principal in your school is your “pal”…princiPAL. πŸ˜€

    russ – uh. uh. uh. i need to read that like, 12 times.

    mandy – gee, thanks!

    ida and bajan – that almost helps me. i know!!! im impossible πŸ˜‰ theres no reason why i shouldnt be able to get this by now.

    paul – πŸ˜† wow!

  14. February 12, 2009 9:09 am

    I always use these 2 words correctly, but now that I have read this post and all of the comments, I’m confused, and will probably never get them right again. Ha.

  15. February 12, 2009 9:13 am

    melissa – seeeee??? i always second guess them. when i think i have the right word i realize that the other one may work too. which is why i wanta start using “uhffect” πŸ˜€

  16. February 12, 2009 9:15 am

    Affect is the verb…Effect is the noun.

    The arrow affected the cowboy.
    The effect was a quick death.

  17. February 12, 2009 9:21 am

    “it is more about the effect it had on me when i realized i would one day have to tell my daughter. then… the effect it would have on her.”

    the above statement was from my post yesterday. i struggled with which effect/affect to use here cause i saw them as interchangeable. in my mind, i totally see that Affect could work here too. i realize the word i used was to show a result. but i also see it as a physical/emotional thing too, where A-ffect would seem to qualify.

    my brain hurts.

  18. February 12, 2009 9:31 am

    I can’t explain it to you they way I explain it to myself b/c it’s complicated, but I understand you’re dilema. Really, you just need to develop your own system for figuring it out….. like I did. And it’s complicated. πŸ˜†

    But why I am really commenting is to say, I hate that dog too. Sorry. 😳 hahaha!

  19. February 12, 2009 9:33 am

    Heidi, I think GRAY is for a name and GREY is for the color???

  20. February 12, 2009 9:33 am

    OH BUT DANG….that doesn’t work if you consider GREY’S ANATOMY!!!

    I hate the english language.

  21. February 12, 2009 9:53 am

    I don’t use these words. Often I can affect/achieve my desired effect/outcome through synonymous or even more descriptive words and phrases.

    In your example above (17), “it is more about the effect it had on me” could be rewritten to convey the actual emotional impact it was having on you at that time. However, if you find yourself using “…the effect…” it will almost always be correct.

  22. February 12, 2009 9:58 am

    brandy – πŸ˜† youre awesome!

    ric – that helps! thank you πŸ™‚

  23. February 12, 2009 9:58 am

    Rick: πŸ˜†

  24. February 12, 2009 10:40 am

    Yeah, this one can be tricky for me too. So I cannot offer an explanation. But for the most part, when I’m writing, I think I get it right.

    The word I still struggle with no matter how many times it’s explained to me is:
    there and their.

  25. February 12, 2009 10:43 am

    best trick I’ve ever heard to help figure this out:

    when you’re going to need to use ‘the e/affect’ in a sentence, use ‘effect’ because ‘the’ ends with an ‘e’. All the other times, use ‘affect’.

    There you go. πŸ™‚

  26. February 12, 2009 11:30 am

    brenda – “their” is possessive/ownership.

    “is that THEIR ball over THERE?”

    kim – i want to date you.

  27. February 12, 2009 11:38 am


  28. February 12, 2009 11:48 am


    Gray/Grey are both correct… One (Gray) is American Spelling and the other (Grey) is English spelling.

    Here’s an post on that ….

    And Wikipedia: “Grey (International and some parts of the U.S.) or gray (Some U.S. only – see spelling differences) describes the tints and shades ranging from black to white.” (

  29. February 12, 2009 11:50 am

    I used to get them confused all the time. My cue…
    E=end as in end result

    and my son just asked the gray/grey question last night!! no idea on that one! πŸ˜‰

  30. February 12, 2009 11:50 am

    While we’re on this word struggle topic… I am ALWAYS confused over “dork” and “dweeb”!? I don’t understand the subtle nuances here. And what about “nerd” and “geek”… I mean, is there are rule like Kim’s that would clear this up?

  31. February 12, 2009 11:53 am

    hahaha!! I SOoo want to say that if you’re asking the question, either word will work…

    but that wouldn’t be kind. πŸ™‚

  32. Heidi permalink
    February 12, 2009 11:59 am

    @Poet.. YEAH!!!! I use grey all the time, so I guess I’m English now. Hear my accent and see my ascot??

  33. February 12, 2009 12:26 pm

    I found this for you to practice on:

    If I recall we had a long email conversation about this when your brain nearly exploded, so I’m not going to confuse you further. πŸ™‚ So I found you this practice site instead. Maybe practice makes perfect?

  34. February 12, 2009 12:35 pm

    I think I said quite enough about the effect all these affectations on the effective use of ineffectual words like affect, effect on Twitter yesterday.

    Long live uhffect!

    I’ll try and not get into the American English vs UK English vs Australian English thing either…that makes my head spin, and Diane and I have a creepy fascination with language books.

    Then there’s all the colloquiallisms…oh how I love that word πŸ™‚ Is it true most Americans find the Irish word “feckin'”offensive, instead of hilarious??

  35. Tyler permalink
    February 12, 2009 2:09 pm

    Don’t know if anyone said this but

    A comes before E

  36. February 12, 2009 5:14 pm

    I love that this turned into a grammar lesson.

    I love teaching the possessives. ‘Tis probably the only part of grammar I truly I understand, and get secretly real mad when people don’t use them the right way.

  37. February 12, 2009 7:08 pm

    Being a geek is chic.

    Being a nerd isn’t.

  38. February 12, 2009 7:24 pm

    rindy – dont you just feel so weird when you cant help your kid out? i refer them to smarter people all the time. and i dont even feel that bad about it πŸ˜‰

    ric – i cant get past “dork” knowing what that word means and all. so im no help to you here πŸ˜•

    gitz – i tried to use all that brilliant info you shared with me, but dang it if im just not that quick to learn. im a hopeless case. but Jesus loves me. yay!!!

    david – “feckin”??? what in the world does that even mean?

    tyler – i dont believe anyone else brought that up. strange.

    becca – i stink at grammar. i am grammatically challenged!

    russ – so, which one are you? πŸ˜€

  39. February 12, 2009 7:28 pm

    I am only commenting again b/c I realized I used the wrong form of “your” in my first comment. “you’re dilema” is SO WRONG. And we can’t have people thinking I’m dumb now can we?? Especially on a comment thread about GRAMMAR!!!! 😯

    ::: as you were :::

  40. February 12, 2009 7:48 pm

    bran – i laughed so hard when i first saw that earlier. cuz you are the nazi grammar queen! but… i let it slide. “your” lucky πŸ˜‰

  41. February 12, 2009 10:15 pm

    I seem to recall answering this the time before this last time you had the same problem? πŸ™‚

    I believe Mandy had the simplest answer (the first time) πŸ˜‰

    But if nouns and verbs are concepts that stick about the same as the difference between Affect and Effect then Brandy has the best ‘solution’ – find your own way of distinguishing the two that you WILL remember.

    There are many excellent examples and info here if you choose not to recall my own advice from long ago..

    For your further edumacation mine was to remember that an Effect – like a sound effect or a special effect in a movie – is a Thing, while to Affect is what the particular Effect does to you personally (or to somone/thing else)

    In your sentence since you used ‘the’ in front of the word it could ONLY be Effect, while if you were considering what affect you and Kass would experience personally you would use ”How it would (did ) affect her (me)” – no e before A-ffect

    So Tyler’s phrase should be no e before a.

    And if i hear you EVER say that you cannot remember this – you are hopeless at this or there is no chance you could ever learn this or be good at this – i will happily come over and THROTTLE you – ok Hun?? πŸ˜‰

    You DO have a brilliant Brain – courtesy of God – and it is NOT helping it’s development to constantly hold such negative ideas about your and it’s abilities

    How does that affect you? πŸ˜‰

    i won’t tell you again Madam!

    love you!


  42. February 12, 2009 11:12 pm

    Ok. Well, I have trouble on this too. So you’re not alone! My trick (which … I suppose I should be told if this doesn’t work … anyone out there critiquing what I write?) is to extend the words into longer words from the same root.

    Affect – affectation – as in “He had an affectation of wealth.”
    Effect – effective – as in “That method is so effective!

    It helps me (a little) put the right word in the sentence. But I do have to think about it. Every. Single. Time.

  43. February 13, 2009 6:14 am

    See, that’s the thing…it means absolutely nothing…but it gets used in place of another very similar word with a different vowel. Hilarious in sitcoms and standup…and almost anywhere else.

    Though I once heard it used in church, and I was a little taken aback that such an affectation would have such a huge effect and render me ineffective. Sorry, I’ll stop now…

  44. February 19, 2009 4:15 pm

    i love me some grammar. i used to want to be a professional editor.

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