Posted by languageandgrammar on April 29, 2011
Although I’ve written about impact before, it bears repeating, especially since more and more people seem to be getting addicted to its use as a verb that means to affect.
Impact is a noun that denotes forcible contact or a collision between objects, as in The impact was strong enough to be felt miles away, or a verb that denotes something physically pressing closely into something else.
I’m not sure where its use as a verb meaning affect started, but it’s a recent development, most likely initiated either a) in order to create false melodrama or b) by someone who has poor grammar skills. Impact sounds much more dramatic than the correct word affected, which is what is usually meant when impact is used.
Dictionary.com, which has never met a grammar mistake it has not only liked but embraced, says, “Although recent, the new uses are entirely standard and most likely to occur in formal speech and writing.” Entirely standard? Why?
In other words, they’re preemptively spouting their descriptivist dogma in an attempt to prove they’re right—–but on what grounds? It sounds like on the grounds that this grammar error has been repeated many times by many people and is perpetuated in part by these kinds of dictionaries.
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