They sound the same but mean different things. Do things go into effect or go into affect? Here’s my explanation.
It’s a commonly used phrase, but an easy one to get confused when writing – does the policy, law, or contract go into “effect” or into “affect?”.
The answer is “Goes into effect”.
Things go into effect because they are producing a result. Effect is a noun that describes the results of an action, making it the right word to use in this phrase.
Let’s look at this in a little more detail to understand the difference between effect and affect.
Affect Versus Effect
The biggest difference between affect and effect is their part of speech. Affect is a verb, meaning that it indicates an action being taken, while effect is a noun, meaning that it indicates the action that’s taken place.
Take the following examples:
- Susan wants to affect the results of her experiment.
- Susan wants to measure the experiment’s effect.
In the first sentence, Susan is performing an action that will impact the result she sees. Affect is an action.
In the second sentence, Susan is looking at the result of the experiment itself. This expectation is the effect, as the effect is the expected result.
Let’s look at another example:
- Susan wanted to affect change in her department.
- The results of those changes had a positive effect on the team.
Here, Susan wanted to affect change, meaning she wanted to perform the action. The positive results within the team are the effect; it’s what happened as a result of her action.
To put it in an easy-to-remember phrase, affects are actions and effects are the results of that action.
Of course, there are a few exceptions to every rule. Affect can be used as a noun, and effect can be used as a verb. Fortunately, this only happens in a few specific circumstances.
Affect is a noun when you’re talking about a person’s emotional response to something. It’s usually used in psychology to describe changes in a subject’s mood or demeanor. You might say “his affect didn’t change when we gave him the bad news.”
Effect is a verb when you’re talking about wanting to cause something to come into being, and is usually used to talk about creating new changes in policy, such as to “effect change in a government.”
Unless you’re talking about these specific meanings, though, you’ll use affect and effect as they’re usually defined.
Going Into Effect
The phrase “going into effect” generally refers to a rule or regulation becoming a standard after a certain time. This phrase is describing the results of a previous action, such as a meeting by lawmakers of a council to discuss whether a rule should be made.
Something “going into effect” has already been approved or decided on, and is simply happening after the decision is made. So, when we use this phrase, we’re describing the results.
If we were to try and use “going into affect,” we’d be describing something going into a state of action, or, potentially, going into a state of emotion. Rules and regulations can’t take action for themselves, and they don’t deal in emotions, so this phrasing doesn’t make sense.
Words that sound the same or very similar, called homonyms, can be difficult to get right when you’re putting them down on paper. But knowing what they really mean can help clear up when it’s appropriate to use them.
Simply remember that affect is the action and the effect is the change resulting from that action.