The verbs "inflict" and "afflict" are spelled similarly and, indeed, closely related in meaning, since both refer to pain or suffering.\n\nHowever, these terms are also opposites in some senses, so it is vital not to confuse them in your written work. Read on to find out more.\nInflict (Cause Suffering)\n\nThe verb "inflict" means "cause or impose something unpleasant," usually pain or suffering. "Inflict" is a transitive verb, so always takes a direct object (the thing being inflicted) and usually requires an indirect object (the thing being affected):\nThe rider inflicted whip wounds upon the horse.\nIn the sentence above, the direct object of "inflict" is "whip wounds," while the indirect object is the horse being whipped.\n\nYou can also use "inflict" to mean imposing something unwelcome, often an opinion. In this case, we could use it in a sentence like this:\nAt Christmas, Aunt Emily inflicted her extreme views about child discipline upon our entire family.\n\nAfflict (Suffer from Something)\n\nThe verb "afflict" means "distress or affect something adversely." It is often used passively rather than actively, meaning that we usually say that someone has been afflicted by something. For example:\nMany people in the region were afflicted by a contagious disease.\nYou can use "afflict" with the active voice by placing the subject of the sentence before the verb:\nWhooping cough usually afflicts those who have not been immunized.\nSomething that afflicts a victim is an "affliction." This means "a state of pain or suffering."\n\nYou can also use "afflict" and "affliction" figuratively, or sometimes sarcastically, to exaggerate the suffering involved in something:\nWe had to cancel our holiday because we\u2019re too busy. Please sympathize with us in our affliction.\n\nInflict or Afflict?\n\nThese words could both be used to describe the same situation, depending on the perspective adopted. However, because of this, it is essential not to confuse them in your work.\n\nRemember, to inflict is to cause somebody pain, suffering or injury. To be afflicted is to be the victim of pain, suffering or injury.\n\nIf you would like more advice, or to have a 500-word sample of your work proofread for free, get in touch with Proofed today!