ENGL 4322 Duran
October 9, 2018
Grammar Project 1
Two very commonly misused words in the English language are “affect” and “effect”. The two words are very close in spelling, extremely similar in pronunciation, and in a way, have overlapping meanings, so they are very easy to confuse. I remember personally that I did not understand the distinction between the two until junior high school, and I still see the words used interchangeably by people even older than I. It is one of the most commonly occurring diction mistakes seen in writing, and I believe it is because the two words don’t have meanings that are distinct or far enough apart for people to easily identify which is correct for a situation. For me, the easy way to remember the difference between the two is that “affect” is more commonly used as a verb while “effect” is used as a noun. In school, I was actually taught that “affecting _______ creates an effect in _______”, which perpetuates the idea that the words have very interconnected meanings. I know, however, that both words can take both noun and verb form, and that they do have their own unique meanings. For this reason, I consulted a few grammar dictionaries to figure out the established consensus on how to use “affect” and “effect” correctly in English grammar.
The first grammar dictionary I looked at completely denied the idea that “affect” and “effect” could possibly be considered synonymous. According to A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, “affect” and “effect” are “words of totally different meaning, neither of which can ever be substituted for the other”. Fowler goes on to explain the definitions of the two words, claiming that “affect” means “to influence, produce an effect on, concern, effect a change in” while “effect” means “to bring about, cause, result in”. Fowler also implies that the two are both verbs without really acknowledging potential noun variations at all. This differs from my general understanding, because it phrases both words as verbs, and declares that they are unrelated in meaning, which I was quite skeptical of, especially since the definition for “affect” has the word “effect” in it in multiple instances used by Fowler. The second grammar dictionary I looked at, Webster’s Dictionary of English, contained information that aligned more closely with my previous understanding of the two verbs. The description starts off with acknowledging that both “affect” and “effect” can be used as verbs, with definitions for each being very similar to those of Fowler’s dictionary. However, Webster’s dictionary also points out the noun forms of both words. It makes the distinction that the noun form of “affect” is not commonly used, but rather specific to psychology, though “effect” is commonly used as a noun, meaning the outcome of something being affected. According to Webster’s dictionary, “the verb affect and the noun effect are a semantic pair – if you affect something, the res...