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View Full Version : Eng. Majors: Adj form of "effect" or "affect"?


Jinx
03-24-2004, 10:10 PM
My boss was trying to find out which is the correct spelling when saying: "the effected area"? Or, "the affected area"? The M-W dictionary doesn't even show either word as an adjective. (If is not an adj, what is it in this case?)

They only taught me the noun vs. verb cases. What now? Thanks! - Jinx

Q.E.D.
03-24-2004, 10:17 PM
If you mean something along the lines of "Apply this medication to the affected area", then what I said: affected.

UDS
03-24-2004, 10:24 PM
It's a participle - a verb form.

Which is correct? Well, it depends on which verb you want to use. You haven't given us any context, so we don;t know. I can think of far more occasions on which you might want to speak of affecting an area than effecting it, so I'm guessing you want "affected area".

Jinx
03-24-2004, 10:36 PM
Context? Here's one example: Let's say there was a gas leak causing the evacuation of three city blocks. You might say "the affected area was blocked off". But, surely "affected" is not a verb here, correct? - Jinx

Q.E.D.
03-24-2004, 10:43 PM
From Dictionary.com:
Usage Note: Affect and effect have no senses in common. As a verb affect is most commonly used in the sense of “to influence” (how smoking affects health). Effect means “to bring about or execute”: layoffs designed to effect savings. Thus the sentence These measures may affect savings could imply that the measures may reduce savings that have already been realized, whereas These measures may effect savings implies that the measures will cause new savings to come about.

UDS
03-24-2004, 11:05 PM
Context? Here's one example: Let's say there was a gas leak causing the evacuation of three city blocks. You might say "the affected area was blocked off". But, surely "affected" is not a verb here, correct? - Jinx
As I say, it;s a participle - a verb form which can be used as an adjective. One of the characteristics of English is its flexibility, and in particular the fact that a word which is one part of speech can easily be pressed into service as another part of speech.

There's a bit of a continuum here.

The gas leak affected three blocks.

Three blocks were affected by the gas leak.

Three blocks were badly affected, and were evacuated.

The badly affected blocks were evacuated.

We evacuated the affected blocks.

"Affected" is clearly a verb in the first sentence, but it is used in a more and more adjectival way as we move down through the examples.

PS: From what you say, "affected" is the definitely the word you want. If you rewrote your sentence to use an active verb, would that verb be "affect"? If so, then you want "affected".

jnglmassiv
03-25-2004, 03:20 AM
I don't see how an Engineering major is the best to help with this.



..What?.. ;)

Bromley
03-25-2004, 03:30 AM
The only time I would use effect or one of it's forms would be (continuing UDS's example):

Q: "What was the area of effect?"
A: "The gas leak affected three blocks."

I can't think of a correct use for "effected area". IANAEM.

Garfield226
03-25-2004, 04:15 AM
The only time I would use effect or one of it's forms would be (continuing UDS's example):

Q: "What was the area of effect?"
A: "The gas leak affected three blocks."

I can't think of a correct use for "effected area". IANAEM.

I'm not even sure if that would be a correct usage. Per Q.E.D's link, "effected area" could only be used if that area was caused to to exist.

Example: "Areas like subdivisions can be created through legislation by the city board. A new bill by the board proposes a property tax increase on all subsequently effected areas such as these."

In other words "effected area," in its true meaning, would probably be detrimental to the overall idea you're trying to get across and could (and probably would) be misinterpreted by a large portion of readers due to the closeness of affect and effect.

Futile Gesture
03-25-2004, 06:02 AM
I don't see how an Engineering major is the best to help with this.I don't know, someone has to see to that gas leak.

TellMeI'mNotCrazy
03-25-2004, 06:34 AM
I always used the "E"- Enact - Effect thing to help me remember that was the one I need to use... of course that's not the only time you use it...

The new policy affected the entire group.

The new policy effected widespread discussion.

The effect of the policy was immediately felt.

The affected group effected effective efforts.

:D

ElvisL1ves
03-25-2004, 12:08 PM
I don't see how an Engineering major is the best to help with this.
Speak for yourself. Some of us engineers are, in fact, literate.

Yep, this one is rough, because both affect and effect can be either nouns or verbs. But usually affect is a verb, and effect is a noun. When you affect something, it has an effect on it.

But, when you make a change, you effect that change, and if you do it while pretending to be something you're not, you have an affect that you're affecting.

TimeWinder
03-25-2004, 02:18 PM
I was taught in grade school that:

Used as a noun, "effect".
Used as a verb "affect"
Used as an adjective "affected"

This has the downside that it's false, but it still serves as a pretty good rule of thumb - it will virtually always give you the right answer.

The use of "effect" as a verb (to cause to exist) sounds slightly archaic and is certainly rare: the sort of person who would use it at all (correctly) isn't likely to get confused by it.

The use of "affect" as a noun is vanishingly rare, I'd be surprised if one person in five hundred could tell you what it means (manifestated characteristic or emotion, in case you're in a trivia contest), although you'd probably get a little more with the variant "affectation," which is still pretty uncommon.

moriah
03-25-2004, 10:07 PM
'Affect' is what goes into a process... a + fec = make (do) to (towards).

'Effect' is what comes out of a process... e(x) + fec = make out (of).

And so...

Poison ivy affects (influences) the skin by effecting (resulting in) itchy rashes.

Apply this lotion to the affected (influenced) area of the skin, and the effected (created, resultant) soothing you crave will soon follow.

IOW... There is skin. Poison ivy affects the skin. What come out of this is the effect of the poison ivy, namely, an itchy rash.

The skin with the rash is the affected area of skin. The soothing brought about the lotion is the effected results (or more commonly, we just say 'the effects') of the lotion.

Affectionately Yours.

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