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I want to use the phrase in a letter going out to municipal authorities. Note that I have added submissions listing examples of the negative effects or negative impacts of the construction project. “We, the residents, impacted by the construction project”. Mmm, now I am wondering about the tense. Should it say “have been impacted by” or “ we, the residents, impacted by”... Or, We, the residents affected by...”

closed as primarily opinion-based by tchrist Mar 10 at 19:28

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  • Impact works better as a noun, as you show in your second sentence. – Hugh Mar 10 at 14:48
  • Have you been affected? Or are you still being affected? Are you asking them to “quit it” or are you asking them for compensation? Or to not do again? – Jim Mar 10 at 18:19
  • We, the residents, have been negatively impacted or affected by the construction project in the following ways: - [etc.] – Lambie Mar 10 at 19:38
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If you're writing to municipal authorities, I suggest:

We, the residents, have been adversely affected by the construction project.

The first try:

We, the residents, impacted by the construction project.

is not a sentence. It is in the passive voice, because the residents are not impacting. Any of the following would be grammatically correct:

We, the residents, have been impacted by the construction project.
We, the residents, are impacted by the construction project.
We, the residents, will be impacted by the construction project.

I prefer "adversely affected" to its idiomatic counterpart "negatively impacted." Neither verb always implies a bad result, so it's best to make the fact that you are aggrieved clear with an adverb. "Adversely affected" will make them think a lawyer wrote the letter, and that's not a bad thing. Your Town Council will understand either formulation well enough.

And, no, this is not legal advice. (One can't be too careful these days.)

  • I too prefer "adversely affected," as one of the other meanings of "impacted" is a blocked bowel. – Mark Hubbard Mar 10 at 16:42
  • @MarkHubbard Maybe it's a sewer project, in which case I may have to reconsider my answer. – remarkl Mar 10 at 16:48
  • Thank you! +1 for that. – Mark Hubbard Mar 10 at 16:51
  • This is one occasion where the passive voice may be a good choice because it makes "we, the residents" the main topic of the sentence. – user323578 Mar 10 at 19:06
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    @James Don’t forget that most of the people who rave the strongest against the passive have no idea how to identify or avoid it themselves. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Mar 10 at 19:59
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The correct form is "affected by…". "Impact" is not a verb, but a noun. Although some people do use it as a verb, it is frowned upon in most professional circles.

  • "Is impact a verb? You may occasionally run into claims that impact is not a verb, or that it is somehow ill-suited to a role in this part of speech. Not only is that not the case, but the verb form of impact is much older than the noun form." merriam-webster.com/dictionary/impact – user323578 Mar 10 at 19:32
  • A distinguished old lawyer I worked for said the same thing about "contact." He would always write "Be in touch with me..." I don't know if he was right about "contact," but his choice was more elegant regardless. My problem with "impact" here is that it is a metaphor in a context that does not call for poetry. – remarkl Mar 10 at 21:26
  • I have a pretty low opinion of Noah Webster in general, but I'm not about to take up cudgels on the issue here, although I do find the downgrading disappointing. For a summing up of why the use of impact as a verb is frowned upon in professional circles there is plenty of information available on the Internet, for example:.... quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/impact-verb – user218195 Apr 27 at 8:31

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