Sunday, March 15, 2020

How to Choose Between Affect and Effect

One of the most often asked grammar questions is when to use affect and when to use effect.

Affect is used as a verb, and effect is most often used as a noun. Since only nouns can be modified by the articles a, an and the, I can show you a simple trick to help you choose the correct word.

If you are not sure how to choose between affect or effect, see if one of the articles a, an, or the will work in front of it. If so, effect is probably the correct choice. If you try to place an article in front of a verb, it will not be correct.

·      Your behavior had a negative effect on me.
·      Polio affected his legs.

It may help you to know: 
  • Effect usually means the result, consequence, or outcome.
  • Affect usually means to influence, to impact, or to sway.
Now you try it:
1.     She wore a tiara on her head and the (affect, effect) was ridiculous.
2.     Watching a feel-good movie did not (affect, effect) his bad mood.
3.     Your behavior is having an (affect, effect) on everyone in the class.

1.     effect  The article the appears before the noun effect.
2.     affect  The articles a, an, and the would not make sense before the verb affect.
3.     effect  The article an appears before the noun effect.

It is possible, although not as common, for the word effect also to be used as a verb. It is most often used in formal situations. If so, it will mean to bring forth or give rise to. If you are not sure if the word in question is a verb, try substituting one of these synonyms: created, caused, produced, bring on, or generate.

Example: The new law effected a change in the way criminals are prosecuted.
Note that you could substitute a synonym such as created, caused, produced, brought on, or generated.

Most of the time, your choice will be between the noun effect and the verb affected.

With practice, it should become easier for you to choose the correct word.

Click here for a practice lesson that includes a self-grading Boom Card Deck to practice using affect and effect. You can try it out here.

Thanks for reading,

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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Say What You Mean and Avoid Redundancies

Good writers simply say what they mean and avoid excess verbiage.

Don’t say: “In my opinion, I think you are wrong.” Instead, just say: “I think you are wrong.” (Obviously, this is your opinion.)

Don't say: "At this point in time." Instead, just say, "now."

Don't say: "I thought to myself." Instead, just say, "I thought." (Obviously, your thoughts are directed to yourself. They are your thoughts, after all.)

Good writers avoid using redundant expressions.

Redundancy generally occurs when a word or phrase that already has specific meaning is further modified by words or phrases that mean the same thing. 

In your writing, you should always strive to find the most specific words to express your thoughts.

Then, when you find those words, you must also resist the temptation to embellish them. If you do the result often results in redundancy. 

The following examples are quite common. You may hear them most often on the news or read them online or in print. But, just because they are commonly used doesn't make them good writing.

Avoid redundant expressions to make your writing clear, concise, and clutter-free. Consider the following examples. The words in parentheses are not necessary.

blue (in color)
small/large (in size)
(first) discovered/introduced/began
combine/add/mix/link/weave (together)
Easter (Sunday)
a.m. (in the morning)
(free) gift
(added) bonus
drown/starve/strangle (to death)
(Jewish) synagogue
the winter/summer/spring/fall (months)
(fully) comprehensive
visible (to the eye)
(mental) telepathy
(old) relic
reason (why)
consensus (of opinion)
(previous/past) experience/history
(new) baby/invention/discovery
(remaining) vestige
spin (in circles)
thought(to himself)

These are just a few examples. There are many more. Be watchful and eliminate redundancies from your writing whenever possible.

Click here for an exercise you can use with your students to help them master this writing revision technique.

Thanks for reading!

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

New Year’s Resolutions Again?

Yes, it’s that time of year. If I think about a new year as an opportunity to write some exciting and worthwhile pages in the book of my life, then I have a healthy attitude. It is never too late to try and make the year ahead of me even better than the one that came before. (Last year was a hard one, so this one should be better.)

If I choose attainable goals and avoid resolutions like winning the lottery, I will feel a sense of accomplishment each time I cross one off my list.

Here are just a few attainable goals that you might wish to consider:
  • Get more sleep whenever possible.
  • To avoid frantic mornings, prepare for the next day on the night before. 
  • The night before, prepare your lunch or decide where you will eat lunch.
  • Set out your keys, coat, shoes, briefcase or purse and a reminder note about your lunch.
  • Leave your desk at work organized and tidy. Write reminders on Post-it Notes.
  • Write a list of absolutely necessary To Do’s and cross them off as you complete them.
  • If you have way too many essays to grade, don’t take them all home at once. Complete them in increments depending on what you have going on in your private life at the time.
  • Plan, plan, plan. Have a plan, know your plan, work your plan.

Remember that you are human and not a robot. You can only do what you can do.  
Teachers have a really challenging job. Teachers are amazing. Teachers are changing the world one child at a time. 

I hope both your new year and your Valentine's Day are enjoyable.

Thanks for reading. 

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