Affect, Effect and Other English Horrors

I have a handout that I often bring to my talks titled “Which Word Is the Right Word?” It deals briefly with those words that give writers the most aggravation. For example,

  • Is the right word “affect” or “effect”? If you are looking for the verb, you probably want “affect”; however, if you can substitute the word “caused” in the sentence, you want the verb “effect.” The following sentence is correct: The presentation affected all us. It effected a change in our views about scientists.
  • The “affect” and “effect” dilemma is easier to solve when you are looking for a noun or adjective: 99.9% of the time you want “effect” (or “effective”) because “affect” as a noun is mostly used by psychologists. The words are applied correclty in these sentences: We monitored the effects of the presentation and decided it was very effective in changing people’s views. 
  • Is the right word “compliment” or “complement”? If you can substitute the words “added something to,” the word you want is “complement.” For example, The scientist’s dramatic flair complemented his technical knowledge versus The audience complimented the scientist for his dramatic flair.

My handout addresses its/it’s, their/there and similar problems. If you would like an email copy, please contact me at TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.

Free one-on-one, one-hour review of your marketing communications at Hannah Grimes in Keene, NH (one consultation offered each month).