Afflict vs. InflictHow to use "afflict" and "inflict" correctly
To afflict means “to distress severely; trouble.” To inflict means “to give or cause (damage, pain, etc.).” Although they are similar in meaning, afflict focuses on the pain or suffering itself, while inflict focuses on the active cause of the pain or suffering. Generally speaking, if the word cause can be used as a substitute, you should use inflict, not afflict.
inflicted with various ailments
afflicted with various ailments¹
a region inflicted with drought”
a region afflicted with drought”
suffering afflicted by the drought”
suffering inflicted (caused) by the drought”
attack that afflicted heavy losses on the enemy”
attack that inflicted (caused) heavy losses on the enemy”
losses inflicted (caused) by the enemy”
¹ Although “afflict(ed) with” seems to be the preferred idiom, “afflicted by” is also quite common.
Common Errors in English Usage: Errors in diction and idiom commonly made by native speakers of English
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Common Grammar Errors: A list of common errors in grammar (topics like subject-verb agreement and parallelism) as distinct from usage