POST TIME: 6 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM


There are a lot of words in English that look or sound alike but have very different meanings. It’s easy to get them confused and most electronic spellcheckers won’t be much help in this type of situation: they can tell you if a word has been spelled wrongly but they can’t generally flag up the misuse of a correctly spelled word.

Here are some pairs of words that regularly cause people problems:


The two words adverse and averse are related in origin but they do not have the same meaning.

Adverse means ‘unfavourable or harmful’ and is normally used of conditions and effects rather than people, as in adverse weather conditions.

Averse is used of people, nearly always with to, and means ‘having a strong dislike or opposition to something’, as in:

I am not averse to helping out.

He is not averse to making a profit.


Affect and effect are different in meaning, though frequently confused.

Affect is chiefly used as a verb and its main meaning is ‘to influence or make a difference to’, as in the following example sentences:

The dampness began to affect my health.

The weather will affect my plans for the weekend.

Effect is used both as a noun and a verb, although is more commonly used as a noun.

As a noun it means ‘a result or an influence’, as in:

Move the cursor until you get the effect you want.

The beneficial effects of exercise are well documented.

When used as a verb, effect means ‘to bring something about as a result’. It’s most often used in a formal context:

Growth in the economy can only be effected by stringent controls.

The new policies did little to effect change.

The prime minister effected many policy changes.

The key thing to remember is that effect is most commonly used as a noun, whereas affect is typically used as a verb.