How this effects you

“This policy was already in affect when my account was smaller.”

Not true, actually. I don’t mean to be rude, but the fact is, no policy was ever “in affect” because “in affect” is not real English.

English is largely about NOUNS and VERBS. Let’s take a moment to look at…

VERBS

To affect something is to influence it. The weather affects your route.

To effect something is to cause something to come into being. The weather effects a change in your route.

NOUNS:

An effect is a result or an impact. The effect of the bad weather is my bad attitude.

  • (Affect — pronounced AFF-ekt, by the way — is hardly ever used as a noun, but it typically refers to an observed emotion. I could see by his affect that he hated the weather. In everyday writing, affect will almost never be used as a noun; it’s often a psychiatric term.)

So the enduring question is, if I need a verb, which verb do I use?

It will almost always be affect, because this is how we speak in everyday English. This affects that.

But once in a while, we need to talk about effecting a change (because you bring about a change) or effecting a settlement (if you’re not just influencing the settlement; you’re actually bringing it about) or effecting a repair (if you’re not just advising your friend how to fix the sink, you’re doing the work yourself).

(This has been a long and painful blog post, I know. The effect on you may be observed for hours in your affect. Forgive me. English is a complicated language.)

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