When I was a newbie reporter at the Houston Chronicle, I once made the mistake of writing about how some city legislation would impact residents.
“Impact means collision,” my editor said as he changed the word in my copy. “Like in a car crash. Laws don’t impact people. Laws affect people.”
That day, his pet peeve became mine. Now I notice “impact” being used improperly all the time. So much that I wonder whether the grammatically incorrect use of “impact” is becoming acceptable.
Here’s the rule: “Impact” can be used as a verb, but not in place of “affect.” It can also be used as a noun, but not in place of “effect.”
Confused? Then follow the wise words of my editor, and only use “impact” when you’re writing about a collision.