Today’s writing tip will complement (not compliment) the previous confused-words entry. In principle (not principal), most writers will already be familiar with the distinctions between these words, but I know we can all use a refresher on these easily-mistaken homophones. So without further ado, here are the four word groupings for today:
Affect vs. Effect
Affect (verb): to change, to influence
Effect (noun): consequence, result
E.g. Judging by the jury’s “guilty” verdict, the defense attorney’s impassioned pleas did not affect the outcome of the trial.
E.g. Scientists are unsure about this medication’s effect on humans since it’s only been tested on mice.
Tip: Remember that affect is an action.
Note: “Affect” is used as a noun in psychology to mean “emotional response.” E.g. Despite the recent turmoil in her life, Mary has displayed remarkably flat affect.
Note: “Effect” is sometimes used as a verb to mean “to cause” or “to bring about.” E.g. Policy analysts doubt that the proposed plan will effect the changes the president promised.
Loose vs. Lose
Loose (adjective): slack; unrestrained or unfastened; flowing
Lose/Lost/Lost (verb): to suffer defeat; to misplace or be deprived of
E.g. Sometimes Barkley’s collar is a little too loose.
E.g. We lose Barkley whenever we forget to tighten his collar.
Tip: If you lose one of the O’s, you end up with “lose.”
Cite, Sight, & Site
Cite (verb): to quote an authority; to provide bibliographic information for a citation
Sight (noun): the sense of vision; something to behold
Site (noun): a specific location; sometimes short for “website.”
E.g. At first George doubted my claim, but he believed me after I cited several experts who share my view.
E.g. Hellen Keller lost her sight at an early age, but her life provides illumination to those who study it.
E.g. Gettysburg is the site of a historic Civil War battle and the site of Lincoln’s famous address to honor Union soldiers.
Tip: You need sight to see light. Think of cite as in citation.