Grammar Grappler #31: Really, Mom, I Was Out Studying Until 3 a.m., in the Morning

This has been a crowd favorite, so to speak. So many of you have shared examples of how often you hear people say, “I have to leave for the airport at 4 a.m., in the morning.” Read more

Grammar Grappler #30: Combine Together the Following Ingredients

Following graduation from Mississippi State University, I moved back to my hometown and worked that summer and fall at my hometown newspaper. One of the most fun projects I contributed to during that time was the Thanksgiving recipe publication. Read more

Grammar Grappler #24: Why Sign it “Sincerely”?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a guideline on how to capitalize complimentary closes for business letters and emails. When your complimentary close is more than one word, you don’t capitalize the second word. For instance: Read more

Grammar Grappler #22: Sincerely yours or Sincerely Yours

This week’s post is a quick read, but we’re using our summer theme of “Grammar Grapplers” to answer readers’ questions. Recently, I’ve received a couple of versions of this question. What do you think? Please choose the correct response. Read more

Grammar Grappler #20: Bring or Take?

Have you ever had the experience of talking with someone and knowing you’re about to use a word and then questioning yourself before it even comes out of your mouth? It happens in a split second, but that’s how I feel about bring and take. Read more

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. 

You might also like:

How Do You Handle Virtual Meeting Whiners?

Use this App to Capture Fresh Presentation Ideas

Wacky Word of the Week: Purge this Particular Word

Photo by Richard Main on Unsplash

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 3: Peak or Peek?

I still lose sleep over an executive tips book I wrote in 1999 where in the 13th chapter I recommend presenters take a “sneak peak” at their notes whenever needed. Read more

Grammar Grappler 2: Presidents Day, President’s Day, Presidents’ Day

Behind-the-scenes note: I write on Monday and publish on Wednesday, so I’m penning this on the third Monday in February, otherwise known as Presidents’ Day. Or is it Presidents Day? Or President’s Day. 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