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How To Use ‘Affect’ vs ‘Effect’ Correctly

The correct use of ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ is one of the most common grammar conundrum among Malaysians. This is understandably so since ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ have almost the same meaning and pronunciation. However, learning to use ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ correctly is just a matter of practise. In essence, consistent practise would allow for a first-hand view in understanding the precise meanings of ‘affect’ and ‘effect’.

Where ‘affect’ means ‘to influence’, ‘effect’ means ‘impact’. While there is a long list of definitions that can state the meanings of both words, I find that remembering only one of each is the most effective way to go about understanding ‘affect’ vs ‘effect’. As most Malaysians speak at least two different languages, it is best to have a simple yet most effective approach to language. Especially since ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ relate to the word ‘kesan‘ in Bahasa Melayu.

Using Precise Words Affects Your Life

Articulating ourselves well means that we can describe our experiences and knowledge better. Our choice of words shows the breadth and depth of our knowledge. In the case of using ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ correctly, it shows the intent of our action. Do we plan to affect a person’s life? Or do we plan to have an effect on a person’s life?

Knowing exactly which word to use at the right time is important to relay our message effectively. Nothing undoes a good effort like a banner with a grammar mistake. Putting in the time to check your sentences could potentially save you a lot of time and effort. Let’s read further to find out the correct way to use ‘affect’ and ‘effect’.

Have An Effect On Others by Using The Right Words

In the following examples, we will also go through their Bahasa Melayu translations. This is to aid with our understanding and for clarity. That said, you may post any question you have in the Comment section shall you have any.

COVID19 vaccination affects the way we live our lives.
Vaksin COVID19 mengubah cara kita menjalani kehidupan.

Consider the sentences above where the word ‘affect‘ is translated as ‘mengubah‘. Note that the word ‘mengubah‘ is a verb (kata kerja) which means ‘affect’ is also a verb. In these sentences, the word ‘affect’ is in no way used to denote the word ‘kesan‘. Being aware that ‘affect’ has a broader meaning than just ‘memberi kesan‘ is key to differentiating ‘affect’ and ‘effect’.

Affective Sentences Are Also Effective

The skill to weaving your words affectively could be one of the most effective skills to managing people. Check out the example below and its Bahasa Melayu translation for better clarity.

Online learning affects student’s level of comprehension.
Pembelajaran secara atas talian memberi kesan pada tahap pemahaman pelajar.

Consider the sentences above where the word ‘affects‘ is translated as ‘memberi kesan‘. Note that the translation is ‘memberi kesan‘ and not just ‘kesan‘ as ‘affect’ is a verb. Therefore its translation in Bahasa Melayu must also be a verb, hence ‘memberi kesan‘ instead of just ‘kesan‘.

Effect Is An Aftermath

Knowing that ‘effect’ is a consequence, an aftermath, or an outcome is key to defining the difference between ‘affect’ and ‘effect’. Check out the example below for a better understanding on how to use ‘effect’ correctly.

COVID19 has an adverse effect globally.
COVID19 memberi kesan yang buruk terhadap seluruh dunia.

Consider the sentences above where the word ‘effect‘ is translated as ‘kesan‘. Note that the translation is ‘kesan‘ (kata nama) as ‘effect’ is also a noun. Most Malaysians know this direct translation but lack the clarity when it comes to ways to use ‘affect’ and also ‘effect’.


I hope the examples above shows how to use ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ correctly and also easily. The secret to getting those two words correctly lies in knowing whether you need to use a noun (kata nama) or a verb (kata kerja). Once that is made clear, the correct use of ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ should come naturally.

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Until then, stay tuned for next week’s content. And always know this: your thoughts and ideas are only as good when you can convey them effectively to others. Take the first step to your English Language improvement by getting my Award Finalist book, The Janitor’s Elysium – Grammar Errors Begone! here.

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