Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Correct Usage of Words by DL Larson

Recently I've noticed the misuse of a few words and have the urge to call up the author and share one of my old professor's nuggets of gold. Nuggets of gold was the term Prof. B used when explaining how to remember the proper use of certain words. The words I've noticed lately are the misuse of "affect and effect." Folks tend to mix up the two and I don't blame them, they are tricky.

The nugget of gold on effect and affect:
Affect is a verb. Effect is a noun.

Easy to say, harder to remember, I know. So the nugget of gold that will help keep things straight is this: the same letter game. a-a, and e-e. Confused? Let me explain. Things ARE AFFECTED by ... and THE EFFECT is ...

Do you see how the letter game works? a-a as in Are Affected, makes affect a verb every time. And, e-e as in thE Effect, makes effect a noun every time.

I loved Prof. B's nuggets of gold. At the time, way back when, I thought it was silly. But I can't tell you how many times I have referred back to her teachings. It has saved me from looking up the proper usage many times. I hope it helps you too.

Do you have any nuggets of gold to share? We'd love to hear from you.

Til next time ~

DL Larson


Malcolm R. Campbell said...

Sometimes I think texting and Twitter and speed typing are making us sloppy.

One pet peeve of mine is seeing plural dates turned into possessives, as in "the 1960's." It should be, "the 1960s."

Affect vs. Effect is certainly another biggie in terms of bad usage.

David said...

From Grammar Girl:

"Rare Uses of Affect and Effect

So what about those rare meanings that don't follow the rules I just gave you? Well, affect can be used as a noun when you're talking about psychology--it means the mood that someone appears to have. For example, "She displayed a happy affect." Psychologists find it useful because they know that you can never really understand what someone else is feeling. You can only know how they appear to be feeling.

And, effect can be used as a verb that essentially means "to bring about," or "to accomplish." For example, you could say, "Aardvark hoped to effect change within the burrow."

Deb Larson said...

Sun Singer: Yes, possessives are tricky too. Thanks for reminding us apstrophes are not needed with dates.

David: Now you're just messing with our minds with the exception to the rule with affect/effect. I'm more interested in the day-to-day misuse of them not the obscure terminologies few understand. As for effect being used as a verb, I'd would not use it because I wouldn't want folks worrying over the effect effect had on them, let alone the aadvarks.
Thanks for sharing!
DL Larson

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

Thank you, affect and effect are ones I've been useing a lot recently, (and probably misusing.) I'll make a note.
The tricky ones always get me.

Deb Larson said...

Glad to help - thanks for stopping by!
DL Larson