Posted by: episystechpubs | May 26, 2015

Editor’s Corner: Sudden Impact

Hi folks,

No matter how many times I mention this peeve and beat this poor dead horse, I continue to see these words misused in documentation, marketing materials, conference materials, and staff presentations. First, impactful? It’s not a real word. Don’t use it. Please. Pretty please? Look at what you do to me. Each time I see it I die a little inside and I can only write in sentence fragments.

Second, rather than rant on about impact, I’m leaving it to someone else. I think I may be in love with this woman! From Sherry’s Grammar List:

Impact Does Not Mean to Affect

A sports reporter talking about how Randy Moss’ latest legal trouble will affect the Patriots said that people are asking, How is this going to impact the team? Then, he said, Yes, it will impact the team.

This grammar error is becoming more popular than pointed ears at a Star Trek convention. I know that this is going to come as a surprise to many people, especially those in the media (since they’re the ones who seem to love to use it the most), but impact is not a verb that is synonymous with the verbs affect or influence.

Although impact can be used as a verb, it means to strike forcefully or to fix firmly as if by packing or wedging. [KC: Note the use of “impacted” in the fields of dentistry and proctology. See? You just don’t want to go there!] So, the meteor impacted Earth means that the meteor struck Earth forcefully. It does not mean that the meteor influenced or affected Earth.

I’m not sure why people have started to use this so much, but it seems that the people who use it think that it sounds more important and more dramatic than, for example, in this case, How is this going to affect the team. In reality, all it sounds is ridiculous. If you mean affect or influence, then how about using the words affect or influence?

Power in speech comes from choosing the appropriate words, which already exist in our vocabulary, not from changing the meanings of words.


Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

Symitar Documentation Services

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