Probably the most misused words in business communications are affect and effect. The confusion occurs because both words can be used as nouns or verbs. Most often you will use affect as a verb and effect as a noun.

Note that the a in affect is like the a in action, and that's what affect the verb represents—an action word. Here's an example of affect used as a verb:

The speed of downloading an attachment is affected by available bandwidth.

The e in effect is like the e in end result, and that's what effect the noun represents—an outcome, or end result. The following sentence shows effect used as a noun:

One effect of the clever advertising campaign was that sales went up.

Occasionally, you will see effect used as a verb (meaning to bring about) in business writing. For instance, How will Mr. Morrison effect change within his organization? illustrates effect being used as a verb. Likewise, occasionally you will see affect used as a noun (meaning a feeling or emotion as distinguished from cognition). A director might say that an actress lacks affect, for example.

It's important to recognize these different applications; however, for most of us in most business writing situations, using affect as a verb (action) and effect as a noun (end result) simplifies the process and satisfies our needs.

A country's commitment to protect its rain forests affects (verb) whether ecotourism is viable.

A common effect (noun) of a country's commitment to protect its rain forests is the need to identify new sources of revenue.

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