When I was a kid, a teacher taught me the wrong rule for affect and effect. She got them swapped around, and ever since I’ve had the most ridiculous trouble with working out which is which.
I think because I spent so long looking at sentences where the usage didn’t seem right, now that I know the right rule, my brain still refuses to recognise what’s correct and incorrect! Ahh the lasting effects of poor teaching…
So, here is my attempt at a simple explanation:
Affect – is a verb meaning “to influence” (e.g. the incorrect rule affected me for years).
Effect – is a noun meaning “the result of something” (e.g. the lasting effects of poor teaching).
In other words, you have to affect something to get an effect.
From affectation you also get affected as a verb, but in this case meaning “a behaviour adopted to give a false impression” (e.g. the teacher affected an air of superiority).
Effect can be a verb when used to mean “to bring about” (e.g. to effect change).
If you ever read a psychology text you’ll see another use of affect, but I won’t add that here.
So maybe I’ll get them right now?