Affect versus effect

As seen on the inside of a lift door at a City of Perth carpark

I’m not going to hold myself up as a grammar guru or a spelling bee queen – no.

It would be too easy to find an example of where I’ve made a mistake.

For instance the other day I was updating my facebook on my new phone and the autotext chose the wrong stationary/ery and I didn’t pick it up.

So… mea culpa.

But then, I’m not a signwriter, a copywriter, where my mistakes are writ large.

(I am a journalist though so I should bloody know better)

Anyhoo, the other day I was in town and I saw this sign.

I was outraged!

“If your behaviour is EFFECTING your family”

Surely a signwriter  would know that “affect” is the verb and “effect” is the noun and therefore in the tradition of other “ing” words – wouldn’t you use the verb.

Jump – Jumping

Run – Running

Shout – Shouting

Affect – Affecting

So indignant, I decided to write this post and to support my argument I thought I’d look up some online resources.

I started with Grammar Girl – a great little podcast by the way – she has a simple tip on remembering which is the noun and which is the verb but didn’t get into adding the “ing”.

Then I discovered that there was a whole website just on the confusion between affect and effect.

And then I got really confused.

And now I think I was wrong.

(I know… hard to believe)

This is what the affect vs effect website says:

So, nearly every time you use the –ing form of one of these words as the main verb, unless the meaning is “accomplishing or producing an effect,” the choice to make is affecting.

An example of when to use effecting is this sentence:

The manager’s new plan was effecting a remarkable change in morale.

But… it still looks wrong to me.

What do you think?

UPDATE:  It is wrong.

I wrote to the Standing Committee of Spoken English and got this reply:  The wording in the statement you’ve quoted is definitely wrong. Any style guide would discuss this matter.   It’s a very common mistake.  I practically expect to see the wrong one.  Sadly, a lot of journos get it wrong.

From RH on Facebook:   “I’ve got the answer in simple terms.  When writing a sentence if you can replace the word with “bringing about” you would use “Effecting”. If you can replace it using the word “influencing” you would use ” Affecting”.  Therefore the sign is definitely incorrect.”

And from my dad…”The managers new plan was effecting a remarkable change in morale.  I was also affected by the plan in that the staff were all smiling at me again!”

So the rant stands!

And I would feel very put out if a sign company allowed it to be printed although I’m sure they would take no responsibility.

5 Replies to “Affect versus effect”

  1. effecting is where things make a difference no wait that is affecting no wait
    if i was affected by something i would be moved so if i was affecting something i would be changing the mood of things
    if was effected by something it would have made a practical difference to me so if i was effecting change i would have actually done something to make something different

    think i’m confused too

    highly effectual blog post
    i am affected by it to the point i will now end this comment

  2. I see so many instances in which the writer gets than and then confused, and it drives me nuts. Affecting vs effecting is understandable at times, but people using “rather then” is just about unforgivable!

    On the Madison magazine website today they used “seperates” instead of “separates” and my sister, who is a teacher and should therefore know better, always writes “suppose” instead of “supposed” – no matter how many times I point out the error!

    I bet all of us have seen the dreaded grocer’s apostrophe too many times to count – ie banana’s $3.98/kg or apple’s $2/kg.

  3. As an editor I can tell you categorically that you were right first time! Thanks for posting about something that makes me physically itch :-). BTW dare I point out that your Dad’s example is missing an apostrophe?
    I would also argue that the sign should say “..people who can help you”, not “people that can help you”…

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