IELTS vocabulary: effects

Today I am writing about the difference between the words that you can use in your essays to discuss the effects of an issue. A lot of IELTS candidates think that they can use the following words to replace the word ‘effect’ anywhere in their writing and in any given context:

consequence, repercussion, influence, impact, result, outcome

Although some of these words can be used instead of ‘effect’, others have specific meaning:

  1. Consequence‘ means a typically unwelcome result and effect. So if it is used alone, it signifies a negative effect. You could of course add an adjective to signify a positive effect:

    One of the consequences of… = One of the negative results of…

    One of the positive/desirable consequences of… = One of positive results of
  2. Repercussion‘ means an unintended consequence of an even or action, and is usually a negative one. So it can be used when discussing  a negative outcome that was not originally expected to emerge:Many students think they can watch documentaries to improve their scientific knowledge but this could have serious repercussions for their academic performance. The time spent watching a documentary on television is usually much longer than what is needed to study the same subject in a book or online. Therefore, they may not have enough time left for the rest of their studies and assignments. 
  3. Influence‘ means the capacity and potential to have an effect. So, while you can use it to talk generally about effects, it cannot be used to talk about a specific impact:OK: The influence of television programmes on children is strong.

    NOT OK: One of the influences of television programmes on children…