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How Does the Effect
Affect You? - Another Grammatical Riddle
by Elaine Ernst Schneider
December 13, 2000
AFFECT ... EFFECT ...
Two very confusing words often misused. Cause and effect, sound effects, weather that affects your health, an affected tone of voice … a spelling nightmare. Let's look at basic definitions and parts of speech.
AFFECT – verb – to act upon, to change or to cause a change
AFFECTED – adjective – influenced by an outside force
EFFECT – noun – result; consequence
(Note: there is one exception to this rule. When effect is used to indicate a scientific "cause and effect" instance, then it may be used as a verb. An example is:
Do you know the name of the doctor who effected a cure for rabies?)
Although the definitions are certainly beneficial in knowing which spelling of similar-sounding words to use, it is the part of speech that gives us the best clue. Here are examples:
1. She knew the _________ of the weather would impact the arthritis in her knee negatively.
Two clauses are seen here: She (subject) knew (verb)
_________ (subject) would impact (verb)
A noun must go in the blank to act as the subject. Therefore, the only spelling choice available to us is EFFECT. She knew the EFFECT of the weather would impact the arthritis in her knee.
2. The weather always _____________ the arthritis in her knee.
One clause: weather (subject) _____________ (verb)
The verb form is spelled AFFECT. Past tense becomes AFFECTED. The weather always AFFECTED the arthritis in her knee.
3. The _________ knee responded negatively to the damp weather due to its arthritic condition.
One clause: knee (subject) responded (verb)
The blank before the noun
must be filled by an adjective. Therefore, the spelling must be AFFECTED.
The AFFECTED knee responded negatively to the damp weather due to its arthritic
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