Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In Affect vs. In Effect: Grammar Advisory is in Effect


On Twitter, @that_angela pointed out a Calgary Herald story about wildfires that uses the prepositional phrase in affect. Here is the sentence:
James Finstad with Alberta Health Services said its health advisory is still in affect.

Now, before we all start guffawing into our sleeves, let's acknowledge that we understand perfectly well how this happened. Folks routinely mix up 'affect' and 'effect,' which are most commonly used as a verb and a noun, respectively. But once you add the little preposition 'in,' only one of the two words can follow.

Quick rules:
  • The prepositional phrase in affect does not exist.
  • The prepositional phrase in effect can be used as either an adjective or an adverb. In this example, it is an adjective meaning 'operational' or 'in force.'

Correction:
James Finstad with Alberta Health Services said its health advisory is still in effect.

Note: In a perfect world, James Finstad would be identified by his title, which should be set off by commas. James Finstad, a spokesperson for Alberta Health Services, said its health advisory is still in effect.

11 comments:

  1. http://www.discovermoosejaw.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=16942&Itemid=399 is one such example of this silly mistake!

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  2. For our fire department webpage, I've had "in affect" (for a fire ban) displaying since 2008 --- until tonight when a member pointed out the proper way. (Of course, I needed to research for myself, and ended up here; nice blog!)

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  3. nice, helpful website. Answered my question about "in effect" which means "is currently effective" as I have now learned.

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  4. Thanks this has confused me for years. Thank you!

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  5. Spokesman** instead of spokesperson.. according to AP Style

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    1. That correction is outdated, the use of gender-neutral identifiers whenever gender is not relevant is recommended for political reasons in order to avoid any implication that the speaker's gender relates to their credibility.

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  6. Because both words have the same meaning (synonymous with "Influence" or "to influence"), and the same pronunciation, would it not make more sense, keeping in mind that language is dynamic and subject to change, to either use the words interchangeably or to select one or the other as the accepted version going forward? Not to suggest I have any opposition to maintaining the majority of grammatical rules, for the most part I accept the need for standardized sentence structuring. What separates this rule from others is the fact that spoken language does not distinguish between the two words, and yet this does not produce confusion over the speaker's intended meaning, rendering the distinction irrelevant to achieving the purpose of language; to communicate information.

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    Replies
    1. Hi anon; the reason to keep the rule is to keep the phrase from becoming an idiom.

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  7. I actually enjoyed reading through this posting.Many thanks.
    Gramlee

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