Thursday, July 28, 2011

English Usage That Annoys Me

Today's EUTAM: Incorrect use of the word "impact," and outright fabrication of non-words like "impactful" and "impactfulness" and "impactive." See, my spell check is angry about all of those.

An "impact" is a physical collision of one thing into another - like a meteor impacting the earth.

Correct use: The meteor's impact was felt over a wide area.

Incorrect use: "This was an impactful movie." If it was, the film reel itself would have had to slam into the earth hard enough to create a new word out of thin air.

Correct use: "This movie affected me on a deep emotional level."

This gets into a whole other area of affect vs. effect, but I'll leave that for another day.

In sum: unless there's a meteor involved, or some other thing physically hitting another thing, you don't have an impact.

Here endeth the lesson.