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"Impact" is Not a Verb!

Nov 1, 2015 | Grammar and Writing Tips

I’m writing this entry now because in another couple of years, I probably won’t be able to. So, here it is: In the past four or five years, a new practice has come into vogue: Using the word “impact” as a verb. You talk about your actions impacting something or someone else, or the United States foreign policy impacting the world market, or whatever. Impact is not a verb. It is a noun. You do not impact something, you have an impact on something. I was in the health and fitness field for a long time, and the first time I ran into impact as a verb was when a person trainer talked about not setting up a workout regimen for me because I already had one and I clearly knew what I was doing. But he thought he could impact it a little to make it more effective for me.

What? I knew what he meant, of course, but it sounded so odd because that’s not how you use that word. I soon got used to hearing it; I even started using it myself with my clients (I don’t do that anymore. It’s just wrong.) Then I read this article in Reader’s Digest about how to sound more intelligent, and one of the things it said was not to use the word that way, it’s grammatically wrong, so I felt justified in my arrogance about the word.

Now, it is true that language is a living thing and it does grow and change. That’s why I said I won’t be able to write it in a few years. Pretty soon, Merriam-Webster, or even the Oxford American (or English) Dictionary will list it. I mean, they accepted “selfie” as a word, so impact the verb can’t be too far behind. But until that day, I will hold the ground for the noun!

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