More Confusion

Here are are few more sets of words that get confused by writers that you might want to put in your notebook:

Adverse and averse. I admit to being averse to these two words since they often muddle me up. To be adverse to something is to be in opposition to it (think: I’m opposed to). It’s a phrase that usually refers to things, not people. “I’m adverse to war, poverty, and cruelty.” However, “I’m averse to risk.” Averse usually describes a person’s attitude, something you have feelings against. It’s a subtle difference.

Effect and Affect. These two words get confused because there are instances when effect is a verb. But aside from saying, for example, “We can effect change” (used as a verb), the word effect is a noun. Affect is a verb and means these things:

  • to act on or influence: The noise affected his hearing.
  • to move emotionally: His illness affected her.
  • to imitate or pretend: He affected compassion but didn’t feel a thing.
I hope this blog post did not affect you adversely.

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  1. I haven’t heard this before! to imitate or pretend: He affected compassion but didn’t feel a thing.

    Are you sure affected is the right word here?

  2. affect is also a noun, being “a set of observable manifestations of a subjectively experienced emotion.” Admittedly, it is usually only used as such in a clinical setting, but it does further muddy the waters in the effect/affect puddle.

  3. The way I remember the difference between affect and effect is affect means to “influence” and effect means “result.”


  4. I’d have to say that I’m averse to “adverse” as a verb. I can’t recall coming across it as a verb in all my years of reading. Is it just me? An adjective, certainly. It just seems rather clumsy as a verb, that’s all, and I don’t claim to be a member of the grammar Gestapo :/
    I always enjoy your posts, though.

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