Impact, Impacted, Impactful Oh My!

We’re writers. We love words. We spend hours looking for the exact word to carry the meaning of our crafted sentence.

Not true of media journalists! They don’t know the meaning of affect or effect so they have taken a noun, impact, and tortured it into THE word of choice to fit the subtly of being affected by an affecting situation.

Let’s look at ‘impact’: this word is first of all a noun. In a sentence: The impact of the meteor was devastating.

Now ‘impacted’: in the first instance an adjective: In a sentence: Her impacted teeth needed orthodontic surgery. (I know all about this!)

And my favorite ‘impactful’: (WordPress doesn’t even recognized this as a word! – red squiggly lines everywhere) is also an adjective. Used in a sentence: (an even this sounds wrong to me) An impactful book can change policy.

Affect and Effect

Affect is one of those wonderful words that fills a column in a good dictionary. It is a verb transitive in the first definition. Aargh! Grammar is not my strongest point but I can write a sentence: She affects her family every time she opens her mouth. In this instance, ‘affect’ = to act on; to cause an effect or change in. Or: He affects ignorance though he knows the truth. In this case affect = feign, pretend. This word can also mean choose, imitate, inhabit.

As a verb intransitive, ‘affect’ can also mean to aim at, aspire to.

Why use ‘She impacts her family‘ unless you mean she smashes into them?

We all know the derivations of ‘affect’: nouns: affectation, affection; adjectives: affected, affecting, affectional, affectionate, affective.

Effect – here’s where we get into trouble! What’s the difference? This may be why media journalists opt for impact. Effect also fills a column in some dictionaries.

As a noun: effect = result, consequence: My sentence: His affected ignorance had no effect. The sentence in my dictionary: When she wants her own way she cries for effect. (I know that girl…)

As a verb intransitive: to make happen, accomplish: Her effort to learn to type was effected through practice.

And as a verb transitive: effectuate: to bring to pass

Then we have all the adjectives: effectless, effectible, effective,

And adverbs: effectively, effectual,

Other nouns: effects =possessions; effectiveness, effectivity, effector; and of course, (special) effect/s — where would Hollywood be today without effects?

What more can we want? Two words with such rich possibilities!

Now, can I affect a proper effect?

PS: (OMG!  A CNN reporter just this very minute used the word ‘impacted’! All my work was in vain…)






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