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GRAMMAR TIME!

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If you can teach me how to know the difference forever, for the REST OF MY LIFE, between "effect" and "affect," then you will receive a Gold Star for 2011: You will get a free hall pass when you get your next three films wrong, and some of you, sorry to say, need that.

People have tried to teach me this. Think you're good? They all failed. How good are you, really?

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For their most common usages, effect is a noun, affect is a verb - as in 'the effects of pollution upon rivers' versus 'water pollution affects our quality of life.' At least, that's what I remember learning...

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Posted · Report post

Andrew's right. You affect (verb) effects (noun).

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I have affection for effect as a verb. It is concisely effectual and not at all an affected lexical confection. With judicious selection, it effects affection.

Edited by du Garbandier

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I don't get it. whatsaverb?

OK, so I'm certain there are multiple problems with the following sentence which I posted last night. Lay off the rest, I know I'm already bad at this. But I am interested in the use of "effect" here, which I probably edited nineteen times before deciding on the following:

Thought it was interesting watching the artists trying to look at something akin to Star Trek's "Prime Directive" in regard to what's happening and how it's going to effect the lives of the pickers.

Looks like it must be right according to what's taught here so far, right?

I have affection for effect as a verb. It is concisely effectual and not at all an affected lexical confection. With judicious selection, it effects affection.

Well, clearly you are not helping, but I've barely understood you before anyway. :)

Andrew's right. You affect (verb) effects (noun).

waitasec. So my "to effect" is wrong then. Right? Right, it's wrong I mean?!

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Used as a verb, effect means "to cause," "to make happen," "to bring about," "to bring into existence," etc. The sense is one of primary causative agency.

Used as a verb, affect means "to influence." Think of SAD--Seasonal Affective Disorder, which involves the influence the seasons can have on moods.

If something effects a life it brings that life into being; to affect a life is to influence it. Of course, one could say that bringing life into being is influencing it, but that would be a pretty loose way of talking.

Edited by du Garbandier

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Posted (edited) · Report post

It's du Garbandier for the win! As usual.

I'm pretty sure there is no error that I find myself editing more often than the AFFECT/EFFECT contrast... except one: REIGN/REIN.

To "rein in" and to "give free rein" are phrases from the lexicon of horsemanship. I wish I had a dollar for every time I've seen "reign in" and "free reign."

Edited by Overstreet

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Posted · Report post

Yup. You effect a change. You don't affect it.

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To "rein in" and to "give free rein" are phrases from the lexicon of horsemanship.

Unless you're talking about the domain of an authority's influence, like the praise songs that say "Lord, reign in me."

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Posted · Report post

Sure.

Although I often find myself needing a song that goes, "Lord, rein me in."

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The reign in Speign stays meignly in the pleign.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

OK, you people are failing severely here. First Andrew and Tyler claim one is a verb and one is a noun, then DG weighs in that they are both verbs and Overstreet agrees. Then Christian launches into parabolic wasteland and Tyler starts digging out old worship songs about God's rain. What about my quote? No one has answered that one. If you were teachers and I had to grade you, you would not show the report card to mom and dad...

Edited by Persona

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Posted · Report post

OK, so I'm certain there are multiple problems with the following sentence which I posted last night. Lay off the rest, I know I'm already bad at this. But I am interested in the use of "effect" here, which I probably edited nineteen times before deciding on the following:

Thought it was interesting watching the artists trying to look at something akin to Star Trek's "Prime Directive" in regard to what's happening and how it's going to effect the lives of the pickers.

Since the Prime Directive isn't known for its ability to "cause/create" ie. "effect" the lives of the pickers, but is related to matters of interference in said lives, you should be using "affect" within this context. If it helps, throw in synonyms of affect and effect and see if they work under the same context. If we use "impact" instead of "affect," it still makes sense, but if we substitute "cause" instead of "effect" within this context, it doesn't work as well as the alternative.

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Posted · Report post

:unsure:

:borg:

::boom::

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Posted · Report post

Just hope for a good editor.

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Just hope for a good editor.

Us amachurs only get one when the Top 100 comes out.

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Er, that should be "We amateurs get one only when the Top 100 comes out."

Effect and affect can both be nouns as well:

For the third act, Ms. Sutherland donned a sable-colored taffeta gown and false eyelashes, which not only had the effect of lending her character a lugubrious affect, but seemed to effect a similar change in mood throughout the rest of the cast, which in turn affected their performances even though their costumes remained as before.

But for the most part, stick with Andrew's advice.

I do not care for impact as a verb. I care for the abominable adjective impactful even less.

To keep tabs on which errors I correct most often would be to spend time that I do not have.

Edited by mrmando

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After an unfortunate incident yesterday (involving the Facebook page I run for a college, a misused word, and a constituent typing in all caps about the misused word), I've decided that I want to be good with words focus on re-learning some grammar basics. Even though I have a creative writing degree, grammar has always been my Achilles' heel. (I think I focused more on the creative aspect of the major.) It sucks to admit that, but hey — A&F has suffered through my clunky sentences enough, I guess.

So, does anyone have any book or guide suggestions? Reading and then doing has always worked well for me.

Sorry to deviate from the original topic, Stef. You can punch me some day down the road.

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People who type in all caps have no business giving anyone else advice on word use.

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Posted · Report post

WHAT DO YOU MEAN, PUNK?

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Posted (edited) · Report post

For me, what specific words actually mean is more important than general grammar. Picking the right word is more important than strict grammatical orthodoxy.

Jason, what do your "constituents" constitute? Do you mean visitor? Reader? Customer? Board member? Student? Faculty? Staff member? Or did you mean to refer vaguely to those in some way served by the Facebook page (including those with no relationship to the college whatsoever)?

On a recent Mars Hill Audio Journal recording, Myers and his guest were discussing the meaning of the word arrive, which (in French IIRC) means to come to a shore of a river, and how it was perhaps inaccurate to use the word to discuss a plane landing at an airport or a ship coming into port on an island. (In other words, the "Arrivals" board at an airport perhaps should say "Landings".) Now, that's taking it a bit far, but I do think it's important to be aware of the history of words.

Edited by Pax

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On a recent Mars Hill Audio Journal recording, Myers and his guest were discussing the meaning of the word arrive, which (in French IIRC) means to come to a shore of a river, and how it was perhaps inaccurate to use the word to discuss a plane landing at an airport or a ship coming into port on an island.

:graduate:

That is a classic case of root fallacy.

:-

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Jason, what do your "constituents" constitute? Do you mean visitor? Reader? Customer? Board member? Student? Faculty? Staff member? Or did you mean to refer vaguely to those in some way served by the Facebook page (including those with no relationship to the college whatsoever)?

I was referring to our college community: alumni, employees, students, parents of students.

On a recent Mars Hill Audio Journal recording, Myers and his guest were discussing the meaning of the word arrive, which (in French IIRC) means to come to a shore of a river, and how it was perhaps inaccurate to use the word to discuss a plane landing at an airport or a ship coming into port on an island. (In other words, the "Arrivals" board at an airport perhaps should say "Landings".) Now, that's taking it a bit far, but I do think it's important to be aware of the history of words.

I'm not sure if this was general advice (if so, I agree!), or specific re: "constituents" (if so...it just proves that I suck at writing).

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That is a classic case of root fallacy.

Yes. How many of us have a mortgage? How many of us are aware that the root words mean "death pledge"? That observation is good for black humor, I suppose, but thank goodness it has no practical value.

Using the "arrive" logic, you obviously can't "disembark" from a plane either. Or from anything but a boat.

Meaning is a question of intersubjectivity rather than of roots. Knowing whether a violin was made in Italy or in France is of no use in playing the thing.

Read first:

On Writing Well, Wm. Zinsser

The Elements of Style, Strunk & White

Then read:

Style: Ten Lessons in Clarity and Grace, Joseph M. Williams

I came across a lengthy blog post somewhere, written by a Williams acolyte, which spent a good deal of time attacking both Zinsser and Strunk & White. But I think you need to absorb the first two before you're ready for the more rigorous Williams. They all have their strong points. Any of them would help the average writer seeking to improve in the areas of style and grammar.

Edited by mrmando

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I came across a lengthy blog post somewhere, written by a Williams acolyte, which spent a good deal of time attacking both Zinsser and Strunk & White. But I think you need to absorb the first two before you're ready for the more rigorous Williams. They all have their strong points. Any of them would help the average writer seeking to improve in the areas of style and grammar.

I've read The Elements of Style eight or nine times, and (once) considered it a near-sacred text. This and the other suggestions are great, mando.

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