How to Easily Remember Affect vs Effect

Laura's Lessons
A topic that often stumps people is how to choose the correct word between two (or more) similar choices. One of these common swaps is “affect” and “effect.”

You’re not alone—I used to frequently interchange these terms until I came across a great mnemonic: RAVEN. It’s all over the internet, but Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty is most likely who I got this one from.

Remember:
Affect
Verb
Effect
Noun


Affect is typically a verb that means “to influence,” while effect is a noun that means “result” (you know, like cause and effect). That’s AV and EN in RAVEN.

So, affect means to produce an effect. Confused? Just keep RAVEN in mind. If the word you’re looking for is an action word (a verb), use affect.

Hours of family medicine board review should positively affect my score.

If the word you need isn’t an action word and instead refers to a thing, use effect.

Hours of family medicine board review should have a positive effect on my score.

Both examples mean the same thing—studying is a good idea—just expressed in different words. An article like “a” (a positive effect) signals that we’re dealing with a thing, and therefore a noun rather than a verb. Some other common articles are “an” and “the.”


To confuse things a bit more, affect can also be a noun that means “immediate expressions of emotion or feelings.”

The patient’s affect is blunted.

This usage is commonly seen in psychiatry content, so if you’re not writing on that topic you can probably stick to remembering affect as a verb.

The effect of eating too much sugar is affecting my ability to study for the psychiatry exam.


Need more grammar in your life? Check out Laura’s past lessons:

Lesson 4: When Not to Use a Colon
Lesson 3: How (And Why) to Use Semicolons
Lesson 2: That and Which: Which Should I Use?
Lesson 1: Using Lay vs Lie in a Sentence: A Definitive Guide


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