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…


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.


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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