Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Dear Grammar Nazi

Dear Grammar Nazi,

I need your help. Your answer will effect a lot of people as we have a little bet going on at the office. See, Bill in Accounting says that 'affect' is a verb and 'effect' is a noun, but I've been using verbs for years now, and I'm certain 'effect' is a verb.

Rita in HR says we should 'just look in a stinkin' dictionary for crying out loud,' but I trust you over a guy named "Merri" any day. So who's right?

Counting on your help to pay off the bowling jersey and matching shoe set I splurged on. Best dressed bowler on the office team, baby!

Mr. Kirk N. Scottie

Dear Mr. Scottie,

Wow, I hate to think what kind of bets are taking place in your office that what I say would effect actual people. Right up there with the birds and bees. But perhaps you only meant I might affect people. I'll pretend you did.

Ironically, you are both right.

Affect is a verb, as in to influence. For example:
  • Wearing a bowling jersey will AFFECT people's opinion of you.
Effect is a noun that can also be used as a verb. Noun:
  • The special EFFECTS in Star Trek are totally outdated. (I'm just guessing you're a Star Trek fan)
And as a verb, meaning to cause or bring about:
  • HR should effect a change in the office betting policy.
Hope that helps as I've given you all that I got, capt'n.
The Grammar Nazi


Cheryl Kohan said...

You are both right! Effect is a noun or a verb depending on how you use it. Um, you can look it up on line, too. :-)

JE said...

Me + Grammar = nightmare.

I do grammar posts too, just to teach myself!

Thanks for this lesson.


Joanne said...

I was pretty clear on this one, but it's always nice to have the lesson reinforced ... thanks!

Stina said...

That's the best explanation I've seen yet! :D

Bethany Elizabeth said...

Thanks for making it so clear! Yay star trek!

mi said...

funnily enough, i often use "affect" as a noun.
after reading your post i freaked and thought i was totally using the wrong word when i spoke, so i had to google and make sure i wasn't a dork!

ok, maybe the googling is enough to give me dork status.

Lindsay said...

Great grammar post Janet. Who knew Star Trek had so many levels. Yay. :)

larainydays said...

Love your blog and am impressed you write and excel at diaper ball (one of my former favorite sports).

Anonymous said...

This is a hard one for me. One day I hope to understand some of these grammar issues that plague me.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the reminder, GN!

Lydia Kang said...

Hi there!
Once I got to med school, I learned a new meaning of affect as a noun. A person's affect describes their outward emotional being.
People can have a flat affect, a depressed, an anxious affect...etc. Not used that much in day to day discussion, but it's another to add to the list!

Janet Johnson said...

Lydia, you're very right. I admit, Grammar Nazi skipped that meaning, since it's not very common. But thank you for pointing that out. My current affect is humbled. ;)

Anonymous said...

I've always known the differences between verb!affect and noun!effect -- but only recently came across verb!effect. :)

Vicki Rocho said...

I have to stop and think this one through each time. Sometimes I wanna smack whoever put these things into our language in the first place!

Christina Lee said...

OOHHH good one. now if someone would help me with Lay and Lie!

Sangu Mandanna said...

Ugh, hate grammar. I often feel that while some rules should be followed, most can be broken while writing fiction! :)

Thank you for your comment on my blog!

Jean Michelle Miernik said...

Ah, this brings me back to high school AP English! Both words can be a verb or noun, but not with the same meaning.

Talli Roland said...

Oh, thanks for this one! I've always been taught that affect is the verb. Sigh.

Unknown said...

I always try to avoid using affect and effect. These words trip up my word processor every time.