Should You Avoid Impact And Impactful?

The battle rages! Is impact a noun, a verb … or both?

And what about impactful? Is it even a word?

The American Heritage Dictionary points out that impact as a verb dates to the early 1600s. What happened between then and now?

Language evolves. Because so many among us dislike impact in verb form, instead preferring affect or influence, you as a writer must decide whether using phrases such as “Cutting prices will impact sales,” or “How will regulation impact water quality?” is worth the scrutiny.

In my online research, I discovered a reader who acknowledges that negative feelings about impact as a verb run deep: Continue

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7 Headlines, 8 Grammar Lessons

In the past, I’ve used headlines to show how to — but more often how NOT to — write or speak. Examples teach best.

This post’s seven headlines comprise three good and four bad examples that involve correct word use, incorrect word use, and redundancies.

One headline boasts a double whammy: two grammatical errors in just nine words!

Please know that the frequent appearance of the name Trump is simply due to the fact that so many headlines have been and continue to be about him. Continue

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Who vs. Whom? Here’s How To Decide

Do you have difficulty when it comes to choosing who or whom?

Some think whom sounds stuffy and pretentious.

When did proper grammar become stuffy? I think that’s an excuse made by people who don’t know the difference.

Does anyone criticize Ernest Hemingway for using whom in the title of his famous novel For Whom The Bell Tolls?

Here are four guidelines to help you recognize whether to use who or whom: Continue

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10 Sets of Words That Confuse

I love words, but I often find myself second-guessing whether I’m using a certain word properly — especially when two words are similar in sound, spelling or meaning.

If you love words, you know how confusing the English language can be.

Consider this simple choice. Would you say:
Over a dozen skiers flew over the jump.

Or would you say:
More than a dozen skiers made it over the jump. Continue

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Which Is Right: Proved or Proven?

Have you ever proven someone wrong, or have you proved someone wrong?

A reader wonders which is right, and as is often the case with English, there are differing opinions.

My primary and preferred resource, The Associated Press Stylebook, suggests using proven only as an adjective, which describes or tells more about a noun.

Some claim that chicken soup is a proven remedy for a cold.
She has a proven record of success.
The band has a proven level of popularity.

Continue

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One Word or Two: Use Care With Your Shortcuts

What’s wrong with this headline:

How to Setup a Marketing Campaign
to Capture More Leads

If you recognized setup as incorrect (it should be set up), good for you! You have a better sense of grammar than the person who wrote the headline.

When a verb such as set is used with a preposition such as up, it is called a phrasal verb: set up. Combining a verb with an adverb also creates a phrasal verb: cut back.

But when the elements of the phrasal verb are combined and expressed as one word, they create a noun: set up / setup  |   cut back / cutback  |  break down / breakdown.

Each of the following examples has two sentences. The first uses a phrasal verb (two words), and the second uses a noun — a single word created by a verb and a preposition. (Exception: cut in No. 4 is followed by the adverb back.) Continue

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Avoid Clichés: They’re Boring!

Woman yawning from your boring choice of phrase for writing.The utterances of political commentators are full of clichés:

The fact of the matter is … At the end of the day … He sucked all the oxygen out of the room …

A cliché is a phrase that is overused and lacks original thought. It could once have had meaning and novelty, but both of those characteristics have been lost through years of repetition.

Why should you avoid clichés? Continue

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As Language Evolves, Should You Follow The Trends?

dictionary_new_wordsLanguage continually evolves. At this time of year in particular, we consider words that have emerged to describe new fields, new products or new phenomena.

The Oxford English Dictionary listed 1,346 new words as of September 2016. Yikes!

nws.merriam-webster.com has introduced new words and slang from 2016. Submitted by the public, some are clever and useful, others are simply silly, and some are grammatically unsound.
Continue

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Happy New Year (or new year?) 2017!

new_year_2017Happy New Year! … almost.

Starting a new year poses two grammatical challenges: First, how do we refer to the exact time we begin a new year?

The answer: not 12:00 p.m., not 12:00 a.m., not 12 midnight, but simply midnight.

A favorite grammar site, grammarphobia.com, concurs with my primary reference, The Associated Press Stylebook: Continue

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Concerning vs. Disconcerting: Make The Right Choice

dad_kid_bike_safetyWhich do you say: “Her behavior is concerning” or “Her behavior is disconcerting”?

We all feel concern at some point in our lives: concern for our children’s safety, concern about job security, concern about whether a storm might delay a flight, concerns about health.

Concern is a noun defined as something that relates to or pertains to a person, business or affair; a matter that engages a person’s attention, interest or care, or that affects a person’s welfare of happiness.

Concerning is a preposition that means relating to something or someone; regarding; about. It most often is used to introduce something, so it’s followed by an object and words that complete the thought. Continue

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