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Nowadays, we often see the word impact being used as a verb. My question is, should it be always followed by the preposition on? Oxford Dictionaries gives the following example:

The cuts will inevitably impact on service delivery.

I saw elsewhere this sentence:

The author offers policies that unduly impact certain populations.

Is there any thumbrule for this?

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  • Your first example is not idiomatic.
    – Hot Licks
    Dec 22, 2018 at 12:22
  • No. For example: The meteor will impact the Earth soon.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 22, 2018 at 18:23
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    The cuts will inevitably impact on service delivery is incorrect. The cuts will inevitably **have an** impact on service delivery is the correct grammar. Also, The cuts will inevitably **have a negative** impact on service delivery.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 22, 2018 at 18:25
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    Read Peter Shor's comment. Whether it's idiomatic or not depends on whether you're GB or US.
    – Lordology
    Dec 22, 2018 at 19:23

2 Answers 2

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Not necessarily. The sentence you've quoted is perfectly correct as well.

Here are some sentences I've dug up where impact isn't followed by on:

Both events negatively impacted her life.

from Merriam-Webster

The book discusses the impact of Christian thinking on western society.

from Cambridge Dictionary

...the potential for women to impact the political process.

from Collins Dictionary

As far as I can see, your definition of impact (verb) can be used in four different ways: (from Collins Dictionary):

VERB + on/upon

as in

Such schemes mean little unless they impact on people.

VERB on/upon noun

as in

The reduction in the number of days that Parliament sat would impact on the quality of its work.

VERB noun

as in

...the potential for women to impact the political process. (mentioned before)

verb-link ADJECTIVE

as in

Trading is being increasingly impacted by the current recession.

Hope I've helped!

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  • 2
    In the Cambridge Dictionary example, impact is followed by on.
    – jsw29
    Dec 22, 2018 at 17:01
  • Not if you go to 'more examples' then look at the last one.
    – Lordology
    Dec 22, 2018 at 17:10
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    Impact is followed by on in the example quoted in this answer: ' . . . the impact . . . on western society'.
    – jsw29
    Dec 22, 2018 at 17:19
  • But impact of ......... on is different, as it is not a direct impact on, which is what the OP asked for. It's just another way of saying it.
    – Lordology
    Dec 22, 2018 at 18:52
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    In your second example "impact" is a noun, not a verb. Dec 22, 2018 at 20:49
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Your first example is not idiomatic. If you use "impact" as a verb, the object of the verb (the thing impacted) needs no "on". If you use "impact" as a noun, however, you need the preposition.

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    Whether you think it's idiomatic might depend on which side of the pond you live on. See Google Ngrams. Dec 22, 2018 at 12:32
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    ... and my Ngram seems to show that some elderly prescriptivists would argue that impact shouldn't be used as a verb at all (even though the OED says that it was first used as a verb around 1600, nearly 200 years before it was first used as a noun). Dec 22, 2018 at 12:36
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    @PeterShor is right. Also see bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33223503
    – Lordology
    Dec 22, 2018 at 12:37

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