wrecking ball

Impact as a Verb

By Erika Suffern

In its publications, the MLA follows various usage experts who recommend restricting the use of impact as a verb to only one of the several definitions you may find in a dictionary: “to strike forcefully” (“Impact”). A car may impact another car in a collision, for example. But we avoid using impact as a verb when the meaning is “to affect” or “to influence.” We would not write the following sentences:

Slow job growth impacts the overall economic outlook.

Changing social norms can impact language: some individuals have adopted the singular they because they wish to avoid gendered pronouns such as he and she.

In the examples above, other verbs that fit the meaning can easily be substituted:

Slow job growth affects the overall economic outlook.

Changing social norms can influence language: some individuals have adopted the singular they because they wish to avoid gendered pronouns such as he and she.

Work Cited

“Impact (verb).” Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 2019, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impact.

Published 13 June 2019

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