Sarah and an Error in Diction: affect/effect

May 24, 2006

Has being out of the limelight effected Sarah Michelle Gellar's sense of style? She was recently seen wearing a very unflattering dress.

This sentence contains an error in diction. The word "effect" has been used instead of "affect."

"Effect" can be used as a noun or a verb. The more common noun form means "a result," while the transitive verb form means "to bring about." The use of "effect" as a verb in the first sentence does not make sense. Being out of the limelight did not bring about Sarah's sense of style.  The sentence could be modified to maintain the use of this verb by adding an object that can be effected: "Has being out of the limelight effected a change in Sarah Michelle Gellar's sense of style?"

"Affect" is most commonly used as a verb, meaning "to influence." It can be used as a noun in psychology, meaning "a person's mood or emotions." This latter usage is rarely seen outside of a psychological context.

To correct this sentence, use "affect" as a verb.

Has being out of the limelight affected Sarah Michelle Gellar's sense of style? She was recently seen wearing a very unflattering dress.

Read an example of "effect" used as a verb at Celebrity Vocabulary.

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