How to quickly choose among affect, effect and impact

These three common words are used interchangeably, but I hate to be the one to break it to you — they shouldn’t be. The differences are somewhat slight, but they are oh so real. Let’s go alphabetically and start with “affect.”

Affect — a verb meaning to have an effect

Yes, I realize I used one of the other words in the definition. But I have faith that you are smart enough to work your way through that (even though we’ve never met). I do this mainly to show that these two words do in fact have fairly similar meanings. The key word with “affect” though is VERB. If you are affecting something, use the “a” word.

Effect —  a noun describing something that has been affected

I did it again. But again, I think you get the point. Choose this version if it’s a noun you’re looking for. For example, “What will the effect of Amazon’s HQ2 be on traffic in Raleigh?” Pretty straightforward.

Impact — a noun synonymous with “effect” but which is sometimes turned into a verb that is synonymous with “affect”

If you talk to an English “purist” (and who’d want to do that), they’d tell you impact is only a noun and anyone who uses it as a verb is a neanderthal who should be shunned from proper society. But I don’t think these purists realize how they are impacting others with their pretentiousness. Most people in day-to-day speech use impact as both a noun and a verb, so feel free to join them, but keep an eye out for snooty people when you do.

If you’re afraid of the effect of using these words wrong though and don’t want to affect your business negatively, call First Page Creative at 703-408-6763. We’re sure you’ll be pleased with the impact of our attention to details.

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