Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Levels of Distractibility: Who cares? = *. Some people will be distracted from your meaning: = **. Many people will be distracted from your meaning: = ***.

Question: What's so wrong about "His hitting has impacted the outcome of the game"?

Answer: We can thank TV sports commentators and, especially, local news anchors and reporters, for using "impact" as a synonym for "affect" and "effect." "Impact" is a heavy blow: "The impact of the tornado on the building was like being hit by a freight train at full speed." For most influences, "affect" or "effect" is sufficient to convey your meaning: "His hitting has had an effect on the outcome of the game."

And don't use "impacted" unless you are referring to the pain in your wisdom tooth. It's an ugly word.

Rating of Distraction: **. The use of "impact" for "affect" or "effect" is another example of how Americans love to inflate or exaggerate their use of language. People are so familiar with hearing "impact" and "impacted" in situations that are not powerful influences that few people will notice. People who use words with precision will notice.

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