3/9/13 Lesson #20,001 English as a Second language: Affect and Effect Clarified

This is lesson number 20,001 of English as a Second Language.

Congratulations on your great achievement at having made it this far. Now that you have mastered the first 20,000 lessons, you are ready to begin to start dealing with some of the subtleties that make English so expressive. This lesson will deal with subtle, shifty differences between the words EFFECT and AFFECT, which cause no small amount of problems among those who were born to English. Our simple lesson, based on the soundest use of the language and words, as formulated by our master English scholars, will easily solve this seemingly complex use of these two simple-but-deceptive words.

First, we will begin with the dictionary definition with credits to the website Dictionary.com.


verb (uh-fekt) (used with object)

  1. to act on; produce an effect or change in: Cold weather affected the crops.

  2. to impress the mind or move the feelings of: The music affected him deeply.

  3. (of pain, disease, etc.) to attack or lay hold of.

noun (af-ekt)

  1. Psychology. feeling or emotion.

  2. Psychiatry. an expressed or observed emotional response: Restricted, flat, or blunted affect may be a symptom of mental illness, especially schizophrenia.

  3. Obsolete, affection; passion; sensation; inclination; inward disposition or feeling.


noun (ih-fekt)

  1. something that is produced by an agency or cause; result; consequence: Exposure to the sun had the effect of toughening his skin.

  2. power to produce results; efficacy; force; validity; influence: His protest had no effect.

  3. the state of being operative or functional; operation or execution; accomplishment or fulfillment: to bring a plan into effect.

  4. a mental or emotional impression produced, as by a painting or a speech.

  5. meaning or sense; purpose or intention: She disapproved of the proposal and wrote to that effect.

For the native English speaker, a study of the dictionary definition should be sufficient. Unfortunately, most native English speakers seldom refer to a dictionary and frequently get themselves into trouble with their improper use of words.

These two subtle words will be far more difficult for the non-native speaker, though, and this lesson is designed to eliminate those difficulties by starting you on your path to discovering all the various uses of these two very important words. In other words, we will be effective in removing any doubts about your effective, correct use of these words, and will disabuse you of any affectations you may have previously had on their correct usage, removing your ineffectiveness and steering you towards an, if not intimate, then certainly a close affection for proper usage.

We have found it effective to actually use the words in a way that will affect and produce the effect of real clarity towards their meaning, not an affectation of clarity, and not merely using words to describe their usage, or affect their usage; we find that approach contains a certain ineffectiveness, affecting nothing in your personal English skills. Thus, we use our exclusive approach to affect you in such a way to achieve the effects you are seeking in the improvement of your English skills.

To affect something is to produce an effect. Sometimes the effects are desirable, other times not. Sometimes people try to produce effects by taking on affectations, for example: a misguided young man attempting to effect a romantic relationship with a young lady by taking upon himself certain affectations that he mistakenly thinks she will find attractive. Frequently, in the case of a romantic situation, misapplied affectations can produce effects of diminishing affections from the undesired affectations or effections, as it were, leading to rejection, and consequently, poignant circumspection, and affective, if not effective, reflection. False affectations frequently affect the effectiveness of amorous advances, resulting in effectively diminished affections. Were the young lady to like him based on initially effective affectations, what might her later opinion be when the affectations have become less effective, thus potentially affecting her negatively once she learns that to all effects, he is merely affectatious, not sincere? She might be affected to disastrous effect.

The above paragraph should effectively clarify for the student the proper use of the words, and simultaneously affect desired effection of honest romantic affections (a beneficial side-effect, as it were, though not without risk), though one should not confuse effection with affection, since to do so would render one ineffective. It has been argued by some philologists that effection is not actually a word, electing the word efficacy, but the editors believe that effection is the result of affection, though the dictionary now renders the use of the word affection as pertaining to the production of an effect as obsolete, leaving the word affection to refer solely to one’s particular fondness for another entity. The editors have disagreed, citing that affection is also the result of having effectively affected something. Were the something not affected, there could have ultimately been no effection or affection. Efficacy is merely the effect of afficacy, but affection is not necessarily the same as afficacy, since afficacy is not even considered to be a word. Even the editors find this confusing, thus have effectively rejected this altogether. Efficacy is to afficacy as affection is to effection, but to introduce afficacy at this late stage is merely confusing, producing unwanted effects. The editors have chosen to resurrect the obsolete affection, use the (arguable) invention effection, deny the use of efficacy as ineffective, and avoid what would necessarily result in the invention of the word afficacy. The editors strive for a consistent clarity at all times, though are not always effective, and were we to regress, might say occasionally that our inafficacy yields a lack of efficacy; but we will not allow this, and it is shown here merely for illustrative purposes.

A thing can be affected the point that the affectations yield an effective effectation, thus effectively effecting the affectations.

The editors are sure this clears all this up immensely, and all to the proper effect.

Next week: Lesson #20,002 – There, Their, and They’re: The Treachery of Homophones.

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