effect; affect. “Effect” (= to bring about) is often misused for “affect” (= to influence, have an effect on). The blunder is widespread — e.g.: o “Opponents say it would effect [read ‘affect’] only a small number of people — in New York an estimated 300 criminals a year — and would have little effect on the causes of crime.” Ian Fisher, “Why ‘3-Strike’ Sentencing Is a Solid Hit This Year,” N.Y. Times, 25 Jan. 1994, at A16. o “It would also effect [read ‘affect’] pensions tied to the rate of inflation and union contracts with automatic adjustments based on inflation.” Adam Clymer, “As Parties Skirmish Over Budget, Greenspan Offers a Painless Cure,” N.Y. Times, 11 Jan. 1995, at A1. o “So far, 63 buildings in downtown Boston and the suburbs have been effected [read ‘affected’] this week by the strike.” Dina Gerdman, “Janitors’ Strike Spreads into Quincy,” Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Mass.), 3 Oct. 2002, News §, at 1. o “The fallout has effected [read ‘affected’] young men already worried about keeping their college football dreams alive.” David Wharton, “Hitting the Books,” L.A. Times, 11 Oct. 2002, Sports §, pt. 4, at 16. It could be that the widespread misuse of “impact” as a verb is partly an attempt to sidestep the problem of how to spell “affect.” For information about the Language-Change Index, click here. ————————— Quotation of the Day: “Be sure that you know what your correspondent is asking before you begin to answer him. Study his letter carefully. If he is obscure, spare no trouble in trying to get at his meaning. If you conclude that he means something different from what he says (as he well may), address yourself to his meaning not to his words, and do not be clever at his expense. Get into his skin, and adapt the atmosphere of your letter to suit that of his. If he is troubled, be sympathetic. If he is rude, be specially courteous. If he is muddle-headed, be specially lucid. If he is pig-headed, be patient. If he is helpful, be appreciative. If he convicts you of a mistake, acknowledge it freely and even with gratitude.” Sir Ernest Gowers, The Complete Plain Words 29-30 (1954; repr. 1964).
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