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Sasha G

Senior Member
Dear forum,
I was wondering about a word 'affect'. Does it always mean 'to have a negative influence/impact' (except thoses cases when someone was deeply affected by something)? To find it out I have looked this word up in several dictionaries. Examples given for this word usuallly describe some negative tendencies or experiencies.However, not being a native English speaker I can't say for sure whether something or someone can never be affected in a postive way.
Can you please clear up this question for me?
  • Hau Ruck

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    No, it's not always negative.

    Even aside from cases that 'deeply affect' people, it can be positive.

    "I was affected by what you said; I've decided to let you have the last cookie." <--- Not very deeply felt, but still effective enough to make him feel affected. ;)


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    Something can be affected in a negative or a positive way, though most of the time it is used for negative effects. Installing a custom exhaust system on my car will affect its acceleration in a positive way. It will also affect its noise in what most people would consider a negative way.

    (Note that affect is a verb here; effect, a noun, is the result of affecting something. Many people get these wrong, especially since affect is also a noun with a different meaning and effect is also a verb with a different meaning.)
    "I was deeply affected by your story. It was tremendously moving." Positive example. [[Sorry, did not see that the OP ruled out this sort of example.]]

    "The young violin student was tremendously affected by his first teacher's utter dedication to music.
    Later in his life, he often remarked on the influence, 'It made me what I am.' "

    The word is neutral, as implied in such phrases as, "The smog affected this runner adversely."
    To 'affect' is to have an influence on; to have a causal impact that changes the thing in some way.
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    "The play did not much affect me, though I did find it amusing." Positive, but slight.

    "My aunt came to visit, during that summer when I was such a depressed teen, unable to talk with my parents.
    Her talks with me, were at least well intentioned, though she didn't understand the depth of my despair.
    They certainly affected me, even if she was unable to help me fully escape the black gloom. She raised in my mind, a slight hope of better things to come. It was not much, but it may have kept me alive."

    The first definitions in M-W unabridge are entirely neutral.

    [affect, transitive verb, first definition, second part.]

    1 b (1) : to produce a material influence upon or alteration in
    <rainfall affects plant growth>
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