Headline: “PENDING CHANGES IN VATICAN CITY EFFECT TOURISTS.” [From an Untours post, 4/1/16.]
Synopsis: Pope Francis has decided to go green and convert the Vatican fleet and the Popemobile to Tesla electric cars.
Taken literally, the grammatically incorrect headline means the changes could create tourists. In reality, these changes might affect tourism adversely because the Teslas will require more electric charging stations in already crowded parking areas.
Affect and effect are among the knottiest problems of our English language because, when both are used as verbs, their meanings are related. Check this out:
So, in essence, both can cause a change. So what’s the diff?
To affect something means to bring changes to something that already exists. His grouchiness affected the staff’s morale. Morale already existed. It just changed from good to bad.
To effect something means to create it. His grouchiness effected a revolt.
Remember that affect is usually used as a verb, and effect is usually a noun. Using effect as a verb is what effects the confusion. Got it? No? I welcome further enlightenment.
Effect as a noun is a piece of cake. Cause and effect, placebo effect, special effects.
Now when you use affect as a noun, that’s getting into psychiatry, which might put you into therapy.