English: Affect and Effect

It’s always embarrassing to native English speakers when “foreigners” speak English better  than they!  So for EQUALITY, I offer this sanguine research.

Consider two similar software messages from a recent QA / System Bug…

  1. [SYSSRS2410] Upon completion of a data purge, the .. software shall automatically refresh all effected items … that are displayed on the Information panel.
  2. [SYSSRS1640] Upon completion of a data purge, the … software shall automatically update the status of all affected items …that are displayed on the Information panel.

It’s a wonderful blessing to have a willing Teacher and Living Dictionary and ESL professor, Mssr.  N. W. of WSU who kindly wrote:

Effected or Effect as transitive (having an object) verbs are always wrong.  In most people’s usage, effect is always a noun, affect is always a verb.

Two exceptions that do create confusion:

To “effect change” is a somewhat common phrase in some areas of academia.  In this sense, effect is a verb that means “to bring into being,” or maybe even “to bring into effect.”

Similarly, affect is a word where 99% of its correct usage is always as a verb.  However, certain academic types (English literature in particular) are fond of sometimes using “affect” as a noun (and sometimes “affective” as an adjective), in which case it means the emotional component of a person.  “His affect was generally cheery.”

These two exceptions are generally only found in snooty grad school seminars, or other über-sophisticated regions of literary/academic language.  So for 99% of common usage, as in your example below, the items are “affected,” never “effected.”

Does that make sense?

More than it did before, thank you very much!!