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Grammar Grappler #19: Affect or effect?

Without fail, this question pops up in every Grammar-for-Grownups professional development class I facilitate. 

Oh, how I wish there were a simple gimmick to help us remember when to use affect or effect. Alas, that’s why it’s so tricky; there’s no sure-fire memorable saying to help with this sometimes confusing word choice. And, it’s not as simple as saying affect is a verb and effect is a noun. So, how do we know when to use which word? Below is what I share in my classes. It boils down to word substitution—but I’ve found it really works.

Effect is a noun. When effect is being used as a noun, it means “result.”

One effect of Tropical Storm Claudette was closed beaches in Point Clear.

Translation: One result of Tropical Storm Claudette was closed beaches in Point Clear. (And I know this well because we had to cancel our vacation last weekend.)

Another way to look at it is if you can put an or the in front of it, use effect.

Affect is a verb. When affect is being used as a verb, it means “to change or influence.”

Tropical Storm Claudette affected our vacation plans.

Translation: Tropical Storm Claudette changed our vacation plans.

Life would be sweet if it really were that simple, but here’s the catch. Effect also can be used as a verb. And when effect is a verb, it means “to cause.” [Think cause and effect.]

This new HR policy will effect a change in our organizational chart.

Translation: This new HR policy will cause a change in our organizational chart.

This word substitution works for me. I’m curious if you have any other memorable tricks for effect and affect—and effect.

 

To customize a keynote or professional development session that will have your audience laughing and learning, contact Mandi Stanley.

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Grammar Grappler #18: Are you running the gauntlet or running the gamut?

This confusing phrase pair was not even on my RADAR until a reader brought it up. And, when I found out what running the gauntlet really means, I was appalled. I definitely won’t be using that expression again.  Read more

Grammar Grappler #13: Windshield Wipers

During a recent lunch with a couple of speaking colleagues, I asked them about funny words and expressions they hear mispronounced. One of my friends admitted she had called “windshield wipers” something else for many years. She had been calling them “windshield swipers” until someone pulled her aside and politely pointed out the error of her ways. Read more

Grammar Grappler #10: Don’t Get Flustrated with this Post

One of my speaking colleagues and I were having lunch with a new friend yesterday, and my new friend mentioned seeing the blog on “for all intents and purposes.” The conversation quickly turned to other mispronounced expressions, and we had quite a list going. This week’s word is perhaps one of my favorites because I had forgotten about it. It’s when people say “flustrated” instead of “frustrated.” Read more

Grammar Grappler #10: Chester Drawers

This weeks’ blog spot is short and sweet.

How do you pronounce this piece of furniture?

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Answer: chest of drawers

 

As a child, I called it a “chester drawers.” Fortunately, someone kindly corrected me before I entered college.

However, I am not alone. So many people to this day say “chester drawers,” even as adults. Someone close to me (and older than I) called it a “chester drawers” last week. Even a furniture store rep pronounced it that way not too long ago. I used to believe it was a Southern tendency, but I have discovered in my travels that other regions of the country go furniture shopping for a bed, night stand, dresser—and “chester drawers.”

Which other mispronunciations come to mind from childhood?

 

Certified Speaking Professional Mandi Stanley works with business leaders who want to boost their professional image by becoming better speakers and writers through interactive high-content keynotes, breakout sessions, workshops, technical writing seminars, and fun proofreading classes. 

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Grammar Grappler #9: Just Deserts vs. Just Desserts

Nooooooooo. I can’t believe I have been using this wrong expression my entire life. Surely I’m not alone on this one. How would you fill in the blank in this sentence? Read more

Grammar Grappler 1: Compose/Comprise

Last week we announced a new blog series we’re calling Grammar Grapplers. A grappler is a tool consisting of several hooks for grasping and holding. The first commonly confused word pair we’re providing a hook for grasping is the difference between compose and comprise. Read more