U SUCK @ GRAMMER: Affect/Effect Edition

Last month, I brought you the first edition of U SUCK @ GRAMMER*, the blog's new grammar feature.  In the first issue, we examined what the hell biweekly means, and why its effect is to make this new segment appear once a month.  This month, aided and corrected by my good-grammar partner Ashley, I will explain correct use of this common grammar pitfall:

"Affect" vs. "Effect" 

I must begin today's edition with a shameful confession: I re-read an email I sent last week and realized, with mounting horror and shame, that I had used "effect" where I should've used "affect." It was a moment of inexcusable grammatical recklessness, rectifiable only by public humiliation ("blogging" is the new "flogging"). So, today I will use my disgrace to  explain the correct usage to all of you, and hammer this lesson home to myself so I sound like less of a retard (ri-tahrd) when I write.

The simple version is this: "affect" is a verb; "effect" is a noun.  When you affect something, what you've done is the effect.  It may be helpful to remember that "Affect" is the "A"ction, while "Effect" is the "E"nd result. Here are some examples to illustrate:
Examples:
  • The effect of Kim K's impersonation was to make me vomit angrily.
  • Remember that time Kim K cried over her lost earring? You shouldn't have such expensive personal effects if you're going to go swimming in them like an idiot.
  • Kim K's affection for being filmed with having intercourse with rappers should not be forgotten.
Um, Kim, it's "Tuesdays with Morrie;" it's not possessive. And your dad got O.J. off.

This concept alone is not too terribly difficult, and it makes sense that there would be different words to convey the same idea through different parts of speech.  (In fact, in Spanish, "afectar" a verb and "efecto" a noun.)  But, because English is a language that relishes taunting and confusing its poor speakers, there are two "rare," or as I prefer to call them, "asshole" uses of these words that bear mentioning:

  • "Effect" can be an asshole if you're using it as a synonym for "bring about."  This is almost always accompanied by "change" in the idiom "effect change."  So, if you G-chat your friend and say, "I think Bobby is really going to effect some change on our beer Olympics team," and your friend says "you mean 'affect' some change," and you say, "no I don't," you're right.  But you're also an asshole.  And I bet your friend Bobby is, too.  
    • "Affect" can be an asshole if you're using it as psychology jargon, as in "she displayed an irritated affect."  This is a pretentious way of saying "she looked irritated."  And she's probably irritated because you're using "affect" like an asshole.
    So, now you know how to use "affect" in an effective way.  And maybe some dirt on Kim Kardashian.

    Until next time, 
    The Strunk and White Girls

    *Grammar is intentionally spelled incorrectly to parody ironically incorrect use of the word. Don't be a douchenozzle and try to point out that we spelled it wrong.
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    Matt!
    AUTHOR
    September 12, 2011 at 4:56 PM delete

    Isn't affect/effect a usage error, rather than a grammar error?

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    meghan
    AUTHOR
    September 12, 2011 at 6:58 PM delete

    I need to hire you. I wrote an article for our JL magazine, and they printed it all rewritten under my name. There were grammar and punctuation errors that I didn't make, and it's been sent out to thousands of people in Tampa. I wrote a scathing email to the head editor, and she pretty much didn't get it and wrote back like I was dumb. I'm currently thinking of dropping JL. Just FYI...my serious commitment to grammar is unrelenting.

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    Douchecanoe
    AUTHOR
    September 13, 2011 at 11:19 AM delete

    What an affected tone you have, my dear!

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    douchenozzle
    AUTHOR
    September 15, 2011 at 1:25 PM delete

    You mis-spelled "grammar" and it effected my psychological well-being. Hopefully the after-affects won't last to long.

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