Difference Between Affect and Afflict (With Table)

Affect and afflict are two common terms used in day-to-day English speaking. These two have very similar spellings that’s why people often get confused with their meaning. However, these two words have very different meanings and if you use one word in place of another, the meaning of the sentence can get changed.

Affect vs Afflict

The main difference between Affect and Afflict is that their pronunciation, as well as meaning, is different from each other. Affect means to influence or alter someone whereas Afflict means to create pain or suffering in someone. Affect can be used instead of afflict but not vice versa.

The word Affect is not limited to one meaning. It has broad meanings which are- 1. to influence or cause a change in someone or something, 2. Infect or attack with a disease, 3. Make someone sad or sympathetic or touch their heart and 3. Show off one’s talents.

Afflict may not have broad meanings as affect and is limited to one meaning only. It means to cause pain or distress to someone. Afflict and affect are sometimes used in place of each other but when the sentence clearly means to cause pain then afflict is a powerful choice. 

Comparison Table Between Affect and Afflict

Parameters of ComparisonAffectAfflict
MeaningAffect means to cause change or influence, someone, attack with a disease, and make someone sad.Afflict has only one meaning that is to cause suffering or pain to someone.
Derived fromThe word affect is originally derived from the French word “affecter” and Latin word “afficere”The word afflict is derived from two Latin words “afflictare” and “affligere”
How to pronounceThe word affect is pronounced as “ah-fact”The word Afflict is pronounced as “uh-flick-t”.
SynonymsSome of the synonyms of affect are ‘influence’, ‘attack’, and ‘touch’. Some of the synonyms of afflict are ‘trouble’, ‘annoy’, and ‘bother’.
AntonymsSome of the antonyms of affect are ‘discourage’ and ‘unmoved’.Afflict has only one antonym which is ‘comfort’.

What is Affect?

The word Affect has a number of meanings in English language which are-

1. To influence someone; make a difference. For example- Social media is affecting her college studies; The climate affected the kid’s health. 

2. To infect or get attacked by a disease. For example- Water pollution affected many water animals; Drinking too much alcohol has affected his kidneys.

3. Make someone sad or sympathetic; touch someone’s heart. For example- The sad ending of the play deeply affected her.

4. To show off something. For example- He affects his Australian accent; She affects her makeup while at work.

The above meanings show that Affect is a broad concept and can be used in a number of ways. As the word Affect has different meanings it can be sometimes used in place of ‘afflict’.  It can be used in both negative and positive aspects.

The effect is a word that has similar pronunciation to affect but has a different meaning. Effect means a noticeable change that is a result or consequence of an action. For example- The serious effects of alcohol consumption

What is Afflict?

The main meaning of the word afflict is to cause mental or physical pain or suffering to someone. For example- The state of Kerala was afflicted by a severe earthquake. Though ‘afflict’ is mainly used to tell pain or burden it is sometimes replaced by the word ‘affect’. As afflict also means to affect adversely.

The confusion between the usage of affect and afflict in a sentence remains the same. When a sentence specifically talks about mental or physical pain then ‘afflict’ would be suitable to use there. Using afflict in place of affect can change the meaning of a sentence completely as afflict is included in the meaning of affect so it cannot be used in its place.

Below are some more examples of the word ‘afflict’:

  1. Acne can afflict any part of the body but is mainly seen on the face and neck area.
  2. The boy afflicted the stray dog with a stone.
  3. Headache afflicts many people on a daily basis.

Afflict can never be used in place of affect. As afflict has a negative meaning it is used in a negative manner whereas affect has both positive and negative meaning so it can be used in either manner.  

Main Differences Between Affect and Afflict

  1. Affect means to change or influence someone or something whereas afflict means to cause suffering or pain to someone.
  2. Affect is used both in negative and positive terms whereas afflict is used only in negative terms.
  3. Affect can be used in place of afflict whereas afflict cannot be used in place of affect.
  4. Affect has a much broader concept and is used in various ways but afflict is limited to only one meaning. 
  5. Affect is pronounced as ‘ah-fact’ and afflict is pronounced as ‘uh-flick-t’.


One cannot get familiar with the usage of two similar words like affect and afflict without knowing their complete meanings. People often use these two words in place of each other and little did they know that they change the complete meaning of the sentence. 

Once you get familiar with the meanings of the word affect and afflict, it becomes easy to understand which word should be used in which sentence. Afflict becomes a powerful choice to use when a sentence is solely based on negative terms.

Affect is often confused with the word effect also. And afflict is confused with the word inflict. Due to similar pronunciations, people get confused and use one word in place of other at the wrong time.


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1985-14548-001
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=w-U8yRF2ov8C&oi=fnd&pg=PT5&dq=affliction&ots=yaHlfo3yVF&sig=9dO3Fh7FiJbgHaaL8ayISN7PyvI