Monday, November 30, 2009

Grammar: affect and effect

My spelling is, to say the least, below par. My grammar is too, probably, although I'm less worried about that, after all language is about communication and if the textbook rules contradict the fluidity of my speech so much the worse for the rules I say.

What you can get away with grammatically you sadly cannot in the field of spelling. If you can't spell (like me) people will not just think worse of you, they'll feel they have the right to tell you too!

I do actually quite like people correcting my spelling as it helps me raise my game - although politeness is always appreciated, naturally.

Of course, spellcheck is a blessing and a danger. A blessing because it picks up my most obvious mistakes (and regular typos, for the life of me I can't type the word 'particular' without getting the L in the wrong place - and I do know where it goes!), but a danger because it has no sense of the appropriate word, only misspellings.

Take effect and affect. Someone (very kindly) has just pointed out that I'd used the wrong version in a sentence but it's a rule that for the life of me I just cannot remember. So I've gone and looked it up;

To affect something is to change or influence it, To effect something is a rather formal way of saying `to make it happen'.

Confusingly, either may produce an 'effect' or result. ('An affect' is a technical term in psychology.)
So if it's a noun you use 'e' unless you're using it in a technical sense. If something affects someone it's an 'a' and if someone effects something - it's an 'e'. Sort of.

Do you know what - I don't think I'm going to remember this, but maybe writing it down will have helped.


Anonymous said...

Neccessary, err, Neccesary, Necessary, um.. yeah, that's the word that always catches me out however hard I try.

I also have exactly the same view as you, I much prefer people to point out my errors. It's nec.. nes.. necc.. important.. for self improvement.

Amy Kennedy said...


This was a handy mnemonic very much in vogue at the Girls', erm, Grammar School I attended in the 1980s - there's slightly scary resonance with La Moss's recent controversial comments now I think about it...

Anyway it always helps me to spell "necessary".

Anonymous said...

That's excellent! I'm going to use that. I wonder how my co-workers will feel about me mumbling that to myself...

My wife is from Ipswich and when young always used these phrases to remember how to spell where she lived:



Not sure they are quite as useful mind...

Jim Jay said...

Talking of mnemonic's - is there one to remember how to spell mnemonic?

I have two stragne one's from childhood. One for Mississippi (chanted) "Mrs Em, Mrs I, Mrs Es, Es, I, Mrs S, Mrs S, Mrs I, Pee, Pee, I" this has the disadvantage of not making any sense and you have to remember it from the rhythm.

The other is from biology - wrengirl - although for the life of me I don't remember what it was meant to prevent me forgetting. Google can't help either, it must have been an invention of my teacher.

Strategist said...

My Grandma, who was given special permission to leave school at 13 (I think) to look after the rest of her family sometime in the 1920s, taught me & my brothers how to spell Mississippi with the rhythmic jingle:

"m - i - double s, i - double s, i - double p - i.

Her other big gig was: "Constantinople is a very long word, how do you spell it?"

However, mnemonics they ain't. The only one I know isn't for a spelling but a sequence, does anyone know what it is?

"Oh Be A Fine Girl and Kiss Me Right Now - Smack!"

(Actually if you google it it comes up right away)