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People often confuse affect and effect. The way to remember which is which is to remember that affect begins with “a” and effect begins with “e.” On second thought, that’s not much help, is it? Never mind. You’re on your own.

Affect, the word with an “a” at the beginning, has one noun meaning and two verb meanings. The noun meaning comes from psychology and means an emotion or desire, especially one that influences behavior. For example, a psychiatrist might say, “the patient’s aspect upon being shown pictures of explicit, graphic pornography was most amusing.” How dare that psychiatrist make fun of his or her patient like that! It’s shocking. I’m appalled.

One of the verb meanings of affect might be part of the reason for so many people confusing affect and effect. Affect can mean to have an effect on. For example you might say, “The effect of watching pornography affected my libido.”

Geez, you just had to go in that direction, didn’t you? I mention the psychiatrist observing his or her patient’s reaction to porn and right away porn is the first thing that pops into your mind. Is porn all you think about? It’s OK if it is. I’m just asking.

The verb affect can also mean pretend to feel a particular emotion. For example, you might say, “While watching a few hours of porn at the stag party I affected disinterest, but I was really titillated to the nth degree.” Damn, you really do have a one-track mind, don’t you? I think it’s time we moved on before I get an adults-only rating.

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