Commonly Misused Words: Impact

September 4, 2008: Issue 254

Now that we know the composition of the ticket, it’s the GOP’s turn for some style lessons.

While we have questions about Sarah Palin’s child-naming choices (Track? Trig?), that’s not really a grammar issue. Instead we’ll address her repeated use of impact as a verb, especially when she talks about drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge:

•     “It will impact, in a positive sense, the price of fuel eventually.”

•     “Nowhere more than Alaska—Alaskans—would be impacted by development in ANWR.”

•     “We can have a small footprint, and not adversely impact the land, the wildlife, that’s part of Alaska.”

Impact as a verb is best left to discussions of teeth. The better choice here would be affect.

Our John McCain tidbit comes with a disclaimer: Although this story has been reported by sources we consider credible, we were not able to verify it ourselves. There was Internet buzz earlier this year over a pen for sale on McCain’s Web site that read “Student’s for McCain.” As of last week, the pen pictured there was apostrophe-free.

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