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"Allusion" or "Illusion"?; "Affect" or "Effect"? The Naughty Grammarian Explains

Updated on February 25, 2017
CatherineGiordano profile image

Catherine Giordano, aka "The Naughty Grammarian," has had her fiction, non-fiction, and poetry published in books and periodicals.

An Optical Illusion

Do you see fish in the ocean or a lady? This is an example of an optical illusion.
Do you see fish in the ocean or a lady? This is an example of an optical illusion. | Source

Miss Grammers: The Naughty Grammarian

You may call me Miss Grammers. Although I am known far and wide as "The Naughty Grammarian"), I am not actually naughty. I only want to correct the naughty misuse of the English language.

Did you catch the two allusions in the title of this block of text?

“Miss Grammers” was designed to make you think of "Miss Manners", a very well-known expert on etiquette. This allusion might create the illusion that I am as expert with grammar as she is with manners. Miss Manners writes in a stern style that I will try to emulates.

[Did you think I was alluding to grams or gramma? That was definitely not my attention. If you did, Miss Grammers is very annoyed with you.]

“The Naughty Grammarian” is an allusion to the iconic ”naughty librarian.” The use of this term might create the illusion that I, like the aforementioned librarian, possess a hidden sexiness beneath an austere façade.

Pay attention now. This will be on the test.

Miss Grammers

The name "Miss Grammers" is an allusion to "MIss Manners," "The Naughty Grammarian" is an allusion to "The Naughty Librarian."
The name "Miss Grammers" is an allusion to "MIss Manners," "The Naughty Grammarian" is an allusion to "The Naughty Librarian." | Source

What is the difference between "allusion" and "illusion"?

My introduction has served as a demonstration of the definitions of “allusion” and “illusion,” while illustrating the difference between these two words.

An "allusion" is an indirect reference to something. An allusion is often a device used in art (in prose and poetry, in songs, in drama, in paintings, etc.) to connect one thing to another without having to explain or portray it directly.

An "illusion" is a fantasy that may be confused with reality. A magician is sometimes called an "illusionist" because he uses tricks to make people think they see what they are not seeing. The quarter was not pulled out of your ear.

An ”optical illusion” occurs when our eyes play tricks on us.

Did you see a lady or did you see fish swimming in the ocean in the picture at the top of this page?

"Melanie strives to maintain the illusion that she is a sweet young lady when she is actually a shrew in need of taming."

Did you catch the allusion to Shakespeare's play The Taming of the Shrew?

What is the difference between "affect" and "effect"?

“Affect” and “effect” is a much more difficult problem than “allusion” and “ illusion.”

I hope I can affect your understanding of each of these words, and thus my efforts will have a good effect on your writing skills.

Both “affect” and “effect” can be used as a noun and a verb. However, “affect” is usually used as a verb and “effect” is usually used as a noun.

“To affect” is to produce a change, and the change that is produced is “the effect.”

A little romance

Miss Grammers will use excepts from her romance novel, "Love's True Desire" to illustrate the lesson.
Miss Grammers will use excepts from her romance novel, "Love's True Desire" to illustrate the lesson. | Source

Love's True Desire

Miss Grammers begs your permission to digress for a moment. She wishes to tell you about her new novel, a work in progress, titled Love's True Desire.

The novel recounts the adventures of Melanie Stewart as she pursues her romantic interest in Doug Armstrong and defeats the rival for his attentions, Linda Scanlon. Miss Grammers is not under the illusion that she is giving away any secrets when she says that Melanie will be victorious in the end. Everyone knows all romance novels end with the heroine winning the lasting affection of the object of her desire.

Miss Grammers will now return to the lesson about the usage of affect and effect..

Is it "affect" or "effect"?

"Affect" and "Effect" sound so similar, but have very different meanings.
"Affect" and "Effect" sound so similar, but have very different meanings. | Source

Affect as a noun

“Affect” can be used to portray an emotional state, particularly a false portrayal of emotion.

"Melanie was quite unemotional, recounting the details of the tryst with a flat affect.”

"Linda's's affect gives the illusion of confidence, but she is actually very timid."

We commonly use forms of the word “affect” with reference to false demeanor.

“Melanie puts on airs and is very affected.“
“Her Marilyn Monroe mannerisms are an affectation.”

Affect as a verb

“To affect” is to produce a change in something or to influence something.

Melanie thought that her perfume was having its intended effect on Doug.”

“How would the secret tryst affect their future relationship?”

"Affect" when used with reference to emotional states, can also be used as a verb.

“Melanie affected an air of confidence, but she was actually very afraid.”
“Melanie sometimes affects a French accent when she meets a man for the first time. She thinks it makes her seem sexy.”

Effect as a noun

“Effect “is most commonly used as a noun to mean an outcome or a result.

“Melanie's tight low-cut sweater had the desired effect on Doug--he couldn't take his eyes off her."
“What is the effect of Melanie's scheming ways on Doug?"

The effect of an allusion is to bring up a memory. Miss Grammers uses allusion to good effect in her novel.

"Melanie's pride and prejudice was having a very bad effect on her relationship with Doug." [This is an allusion to the Jane Austen novel Pride and Prejudice.]

Effect as a verb

“To effect” is to cause a result or to have the ability to cause a result.

"Melanie wanted to effect a change in the way Doug thought of her. She wanted him to stop thinking of her as a child."
"Melanie hoped a tight fitting low-cut sweater might effect the desired change in Doug's perception of her."

The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment
The Only Grammar Book You'll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment
The ideal resource for everyone who wants to produce writing that is clear, concise, and grammatically excellent. Whether your are a professional writer or you just want to produce excellent business reports, school papers, and personal letters, this book is for you.

Remember “cause and effect”

Think of it as "cause and effect": When I affect something I cause a change; when I have changed something, I have had an effect. To affect is to cause something to happen, and the effect is the result. Since 'a" comes before "e" in the dictionary, and cause comes before effect, you can associate "affect" with "cause" and "effect" with the result.

  • Miss Grammers is endeavoring to arouse your interest in her book in the hopes that this this will have an effect on the eventual financial success of her novel.

Give me your feedback

Did the naughty grammarian help you learn something new?

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Affect-Effect Quiz

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All done. Now what?

Miss Grammers is now going to let her hair down, put her feet up, and enjoy a nice glass of Chablis in celebration of a job well done.

You, on the other hand, will proceed to the next lesson in "The Naughty Grammarian" series. There is much more to be learned. Miss Grammers does not like slackers. She has a ruler that will be applied to the knuckles of any recalcitrant students.

© 2014 Catherine Giordano


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