So many issues to contemplate and solve. Issue after issue. Issues are issuing forth from radio, television and every segment of media all day and all night. We are bombarded with issues.
We are constantly being asked how these issues impact us. So many impacts. Impacts here, impacts there, impacts, impacts everywhere.
What I want to know is what happened to problems affecting people. I’m guessing impact has replaced affect, at least in writing, because so many people are unsure whether to use affect or effect.
Either of those can be used instead of impact:
- How does this problem affect you? (Affect is a verb.)
- What will be the effect of this problem? (Effect is a noun.)
It’s true that affect can be a noun: The patient had a flat affect (no facial expression).
Effect can also be a verb: Every new president hopes to effect changes (meaning bring about).
However, you can see how rarely each of those words is used in those ways. Try memorizing the overwhelmingly more common uses of affect and effect (see sentences 1 and 2 above) and take them out for a spin every now and then. Don’t get stuck in the Issue and Impact Rut.
While driving yesterday, I saw a truck on the infamous 405 freeway. The company installs audio and visual components and proudly displayed its name in various places on the truck:
I was in no danger of driving off the freeway since my maximum speed at that point ranged from 5-10 mph. But I did swallow my gum.
Being the crank that I am, I sent the company an e-mail today:
To Simplistic Solutions:
I saw one of your trucks on the 405 yesterday and almost croaked. It appears you do not realize that “simplistic” and “simple” are not synonyms. You know what “simple” means; “simplistic” means overly simple, too simple—it is most definitely a NEGATIVE. I am certain that is not the idea you want potential customers to have about your company.
MISCHIEVOUS is pronounced MIS CHIV ISS, not MIS CHEEVE E US.
GRIEVOUS is often misspelled and pronounced GREEVE E US. It’s GREEVE ISS.
Incidentally, looking at the subject line of this post reminds me that some people say and write PRONOUNCIATION and MISPRONOUNCIATION. True, the verb is PRONOUNCE, but for the noun forms, the O before the U is dropped.
Remember, I just teach the rules. I think they’re as crazy as you do.
One of the most common phrases I see and hear is “in order to”:
• In order to vote, you have to be registered by a stated date.
• We will take a poll in order to see who the two most popular candidates are.
• We will book our trip next Tuesday in order to get the best airfare.
In all those sentences, the words “in order” are extraneous; they add no information. They are saying the equivalent of “so that,” but that idea is implied by the word “to” alone. When words don’t do any work, chop them out.
You probably should proofread several times: once for obvious typos and grammatical errors, again for punctuation problems, and one more time to make certain your writing is as clear and concise as possible. If you proofread out loud (barely audibly is fine) and very slowly, you will catch many errors you won’t find when you read silently and at your usual speed. Unless we slow down and speak out, we all tend to see what we think we wrote, not what we actually wrote.
People used to think proofreading backwards was helpful; I do not recommend this technique. It will pick up typos, but since you are not understanding the meaning of your writing, you will miss just about everything else.