Problem – Communication Affective not Effective

Did they say that! A common response to what we hear around us. Then on a lifestyle site the problem of miscommunication helps explain why we react and why we might not understand the intended meaning: Michel De Montaigne, one of the most influential writers of the French Renaissance once said, “The greater parts of the world’s troubles are due to questions of grammar.”

More and more we are hearing the term gaffe used. The Prime Minister is often quoted as made a gaffe. How we react to being expected to know everything and know we know so little can be embarrassing. Think of this scenario, a stranger walks up to you asks for your opinion and you immediately try to read the situation before you respond. You notice an odd inflection here and one wrong preposition there, and you cannot find it in yourself to respond appropriately. You are stuck for the right words to respond and might even say something you later regret.

Than again, grammatical bloopers are not uncommon and even the most scrupulous writer will tell you it can happen. After all, with an infinite array of nouns, prepositions, infinitives, gerunds, antonyms, synonyms, homonyms and more, one is sure to ‘stuff up’ at times.  But, why is it more likely or very likely people will be confused in the use of ‘effective’ and ‘affective’? Because sometimes it is a tough decision making out the meaning and usage of these similar sounding yet unlike words – ‘effective’ and ‘affective’.

Look at the difference:

The etymology (meaning useful for determining whether a modern English word is descended from Old English) of these commonplace words empowers you to estimate the difference. The word ‘effective’ is derived from the word ‘effect’, which is used both as a noun and as a verb, while the word ‘affective’ draws its inspiration from the verb ‘affect’. Therefore, the nuance and usage of both ‘effect’ and ‘affect ‘will leave you with a better understanding of ‘effective’ and ‘affective’.

A dictionary might define ‘effect’ as “A phenomenon that follows and is caused by some earlier phenomenon”. Simplified, ‘effect’ is defined as the ending or result of a consequence. When used as a noun, ‘effect’ signifies the change caused by something. For example, in the sentence “The drought had a major effect on the world economy”, a change is followed by a phenomenon or an event. When used as a verb, ‘effective’ usually means producing or capable of producing desired result. For instance, “The new mosquito repellent proved to be very effective against dengue.” This sentence clearly shows the ability of the repellent to produce desired result and is hence effective.

‘Affective’ derives its origin from the word ‘affect’, which means “to have an effect upon”. Usually used as a verb, it often refers to an impact imposed by a person or thing. For example, “The advice of the Governor was affective to change their ways”. The sentence stresses the governor can influence the audience. Therefore, the Governor is an affective person.


Effective –

“Effective communication in the workplace is a must for career success”.

“His advice was very effective to our upcoming business proposal?”

“Prolonged research enabled him to find effective treatment for the disease”.

“The pain killer was not so effective against my knee pain!”

Affective –

“The politician was affective enough to win the voter’s confidence”.

“The Treasurer’s speech was so affective that he couldn’t help thinking about it since!”

“The budget speech was affective”.

Just maybe the inability of governments (It was a problem for Labour as it is with the Liberals) to sell important messages could be a simple as the greater parts of their troubles are due to questions of the use of grammar. Did they really say that!


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