Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tricky Words (Part 5 of 8)

Is impact only a noun or can we use it as a verb?

A decade ago one of my writer friends demanded that I not use impact as a verb. "It is a noun and only a noun." I agreed with the first part of his sentence that it is a noun and means to have a strong and often bad effect on something or someone.

I disagree with the second part because impact can function as a verb. In researching the word, I learned that the verbal usage has been around since the early 1600s. It means to influence or to strike forcefully. For example: The down economy impacted his sales commission.

Others will allow impact only as an intransitive verb (that is, a noun doesn't follow the verb or take a direct object). That seems arbitrary to me. To make the verb intransitive, they add the preposition on. The new law impacted on the poorest people. I see nothing wrong with writing it this way: The new law impacted the poorest people. It had a powerful, direct influence.

I am careful and certain about the words I use.

1 comment:

  1. I am certain that you are correct. Your teaching has impacted writers. I have heard the word used often. "We hope the church will impact the world through missions."

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