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Common Errors

a while: a short time (n.)
• Our nap lasted only a while.
awhile: for a time (adv.)
• I think we should sleep awhile longer.

a part: one piece (n.)
• A part of me thinks we should break up.
apart: not together (adv.)
• When we’re apart, I’m ecstatic.

Affect and effect are mixed up all the time. Affect, used as a verb, means “to influence.”
• Quinn’s wild partying on Thursday night affected her performance on the history test.
Effect, used as a noun, means “result.”
• Quinn’s wild partying on Thursday night had a terrible effect on her performance on the history test.
Occasionally, effect may be used to mean “to bring about.”
• Try as they might, the members of the student council could not effect real change to the school’s lunch policy.

The verbs effect and affect are similar but not interchangeable. To effect is to cause; to affect is to influence.

One trick that might help you remember the difference between the two: a, the first letter in the word affect, comes before e, the first letter of effect. This makes sense, because something is affected first, and the result is an effect. For example: “My brilliant application essay affected my chances of admission; the essay’s effect was an acceptance letter.”

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