The Effects of the Unaffected

A couple of days ago, I was skimming through my Facebook feed when I came upon a photo of a friend’s son with some kind of science project. The poster board proclaimed, “The Affects of Global Warming on Animals.” His father had posted a typically proud comment: “Justin did this all by himself. I didn’t even proofread it.”

I’m not particularly proud of my internal response to this, but it went something like this: “I can tell.” (Harsh, right? The kid was maybe 12.)

The thing is, when it comes to “affect” versus “effect,” age doesn’t matter. It’s one of those issues that plagues many of us well into adulthood. So let’s clear up the confusion.

“Affect” is a verb meaning “to influence.” As in, “Learning that the slang word ‘amazeballs’ made it into the Oxford Dictionary affected me greatly.”

“Effect,” on the other hand, is a noun meaning “result.” As in, “Learning that the slang word ‘amazeballs” made it into Oxford Dictionary had a dismaying effect on me.”

Not so difficult, right? What adds a bit of complexity is that “affect” can also be a noun (pronounced “af-ekt”) describing someone’s emotional state: “His inappropriate affect was pretty much the opposite of amazeballs.” And “effect” can also be a verb meaning “to bring about or cause”: “Whoever effected that addition to the Oxford Dictionary should consider a new line of work.”

But those are completely different uses from the fundamental problem at hand. In that particular use, it’s as easy as “affect” = verb and “effect” = noun.

I’m still collecting opinions on the appropriateness of emoticons when it comes to communicating with clients/colleagues in business. If you have an opinion, I’d love to hear it. Thanks for reading.

Word of the Week: Amazeballs

Song of the Week: “Rump Shaker,” by Wrecks-N-Effect


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