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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
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 12:22
  • No. For example: The meteor will impact the Earth soon.
    – RonJohn
    Commented 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
    Commented 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
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 19:23

4 Answers 4

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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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  • 3
    In the Cambridge Dictionary example, impact is followed by on.
    – jsw29
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 17:01
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    Not if you go to 'more examples' then look at the last one.
    – Lordology
    Commented 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
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 17:19
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    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
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 18:52
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    In your second example "impact" is a noun, not a verb. Commented 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. Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 12:32
  • 2
    ... 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). Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 12:36
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    @PeterShor is right. Also see bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-33223503
    – Lordology
    Commented Dec 22, 2018 at 12:37
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Impact will be followed by 'on' if it is a noun. This circumstance will have an impact to my life. However,it should not be followed by 'on' if it is verb. This circumstance impacts my lifestyle.

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  • Impact will be followed by 'on' if it is a noun. For ex.: This circumstance will have an impact to my life. However,it should not be followed by 'on' if it is verb. For ex.: This circumstance impacts my lifestyle.
    – Ricky
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 16:58
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    Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 17:01
  • You should edit the original answer rather than posting substantially the same answer again. Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 17:04
  • Your answer lacks impact (and also supporting argument or authority). My sentence lacks “on”, although it is quite grammatical and I am using “impact” as a noun. Please read the Help on answering questions.
    – David
    Commented Nov 23, 2022 at 19:01
  • I am new here, so I am not allowed to comment directly to David's comment to Ricky. Let's examine this more closely. Your answer (subject) lacks (verb) impact (object). While this is grammatically accurate, the object is unidentified. If it is identified, then on (or another preposition) is required: Your answer lacks impact on the discussion. Ricky's answer is accurate. Whether the word impact is currently being overused is another topic. style.mla.org/impact-as-a-verb
    – Editor
    Commented Dec 16, 2022 at 16:00
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Nowadays, we often see the word impact being used as a verb.

It has been a verb since the 17th century.

1601 P. Holland tr. Pliny History of the World II. xx. xxi. 73 The seed of this hearbe remooveth the tough humours bedded in the stomacke, how hard impacted soever they be.

1677 T. Gale Court of Gentiles: Pt. IV iv. Proem 4 Ideas or notions impacted on the mind.

Should the verb "impact" be always followed by "on"?

No.

1897 T. C. Allbutt et al. Syst. Med. III. 835 A stone-like mass..which had become impacted in the lower ilium.

1929 ‘Seamark’ Down River vi. 172 Something impacted with a soft thud against Lingard's temple.

1962 F. I. Ordway et al. Basic Astronautics v. 201 The Soviet Lunnaya Raketa was launched early in the afternoon of September 12, 1959 and impacted onto the Moon's surface just after midnight on September 14, Moscow time.

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