Difference Between Affect and Afflict

The proper usage of English words that have almost the same meanings can be tricky. Grammatically you may form a correct sentence but using an improper verb can change the meaning of the same. Affect and afflict, both are transitive verbs, and to some extent, they express the same meaning but they aren’t synonyms of each other. 

Affect vs Afflict

The main difference between affect and afflict is that affect is mostly used to describe the consequence of any act or action on a living or non-living thing whereas afflict is used to describe a situation mainly when any suffering is involved by disease or fatal accident. Affect can be used in place of afflict sometimes since the former one is used broadly. 

Affect and Afflict

There is more than one word that has influenced the use of the word affect in the English language. In the 14th century, the Latin word “affectus” came into play that described the state of the mind as a result of some external influence. Other related words of affect are affected and affecting.

Afflict also has its history rooted in the old Latin language and is derived from the word “afflictare.” It means to torment or harass and today when it is used in the English language it mainly describes any trouble or pain caused to the body or mind.   

Comparison Table Between Affect and Afflict

Parameters of ComparisonAffectAfflict
DefinitionAffect is a transitive verb used to explain the influence of action or have an effect on someone/something. Afflict is a transitive verb used mainly to explain the influence of a disease or infection. 
OriginOriginally evolved from the Latin word “afficere” and the French word “affector”. Evolved as a word in late Middle English mainly from various Latin words like “afflictare” and “afflligere.”
PronunciationThe two syllables in the word are af-fect, and more stress is given on the second syllable. The two syllables in the word are af-flict and it is pronounced as uh-flict with more stress on the second syllable. 
UseAffect is used to describe a broad spectrum of emotions.Afflict is mainly used to describe any form of physical and mental suffering.
SynonymsSome of the synonyms are induce, alter, influence, etc. Some of the synonyms are burden, wound, torment, torture, etc.
AntonymsSome of the antonyms are stagnate, remain, order, etc. Some of the antonyms are delight, comfort, solace, etc. 

What is Affect?

Though affect is a transitive verb, other related words that are used with relevant tenses like affecting and affected are used as adjectives in the sentences. They all have the same meaning that how a subject’s state of mind changes in different scenarios or how an act influences the mood of the subject. The word affect can be used in various instances and purposes to describe the impact of any natural calamities on various human emotions. Given below are a few examples of how to use the word correctly in a sentence. 

  • The doctors took the necessary steps to ensure that the procedure didn’t affect the patient mentally. 
  • Poverty is a social enemy that has affected everyone irrespective of gender, race, and age.
  • My current decisions are affecting my future. 
  • There are many support groups for people who are affected by cancer. 

In the above examples, the use of affect, affected, and affecting have been shown for better understanding. And the word can be used for just more than describing any injuries or wounds, unlike the word afflict

While learning more about the word affect, it is also important to note down the difference between affect and effect. Effect is used as a noun and it means result or consequence. For example, his deep voice has a dramatic effect. 

What is Afflict?

Afflict is not used extensively in many situations like the word affect. Unlike affect, afflict mainly refers to any sort of physical or mental discomfort that is usually a consequence of a wound. Other related words of afflict are afflicted and afflicting. When speaking of a health issue, the use of afflict is more than affect. For example, various skin infections primarily afflict children. Here, the use of affect would have also formed a good meaningful sentence, but the use of afflict is more proper and impactful. 

Below are a few examples of how one can incorporate the word afflict in a sentence.

  • Even in this modern world, famine afflicts living beings. 
  • Obesity has afflicted millions of Americans. 
  • Many old people are afflicted with arthritis. 
  • Many places in the world are still afflicted by hunger and poverty. 

Afflict is not used extensively like affect because several synonyms can make the sentence formation much better. For example, millions of Americans have fallen victim to obesity or arthritis is very common among old people. 

You might often confuse afflict and inflict with each other. The most significant difference between these two words is that afflict accompanies the preposition with whereas inflict accompanies the proposition on. For example, terrible injustice was inflicted on her. 

Main Differences Between Affect and Afflict

  1. Affect is used to describe the influence of action or have an effect on someone/something whereas afflict is used mainly to explain the influence of a disease or infection.
  2. The word affect has been derived from a mix of Latin and French language whereas the word afflict is solely originated from Latin. 
  3. Affect is pronounced as it is like af-fect whereas afflict is pronounced as uh-flict instead of af-flict. 
  4. Affect is used for a much broader spectrum of emotions whereas afflict is mainly used to describe any form of physical and mental suffering.
  5. Affect can be used instead of afflict in many circumstances but rarely afflict can be used in place of affect. 

Conclusion

It is not easy to get hang of the similar English words on a single try. The difference between affect and afflict is one of the many such pairs that tend to confuse. At first, using either of the words seems appropriate which is true in certain situations. But once to start reading more and more, the difference in the application of these words becomes clearer. So, unless and until we start incorporating these words practically, read and observe more, confusion exists. Learning any language can be very tricky unless we start practicing. 

References

  1. https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.538.6446&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  2. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/08351818409389195
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