Ow! That negatively impacts!

We hear bureaucratic language so often that it’s hard to keep it from seeping into our informal writing. One especially widespread and irritating phrase is “negatively impact.”

It means “hurt.” So say that. You’ll get one word to do the work of two; one syllable to do the work of six.

  • The storm damage has hurt our chances of willing the flower show.
  • The scandal is hurting our recruiting efforts.
  • The new regulations will hurt our profits.

If you don’t like “hurt,” you can find some other great words in any thesaurus: harm, injure, prejudice, taint. If you want to get informal, “mess up” works pretty well.

Even better, specify the kind of hurt you mean:

  • The storm damage has wiped out our best begonias.
  • The scandal is convincing good players choose other schools.
  • The new regulations will cost us an extra $9 million next year.

Once you start paying attention, you’ll see a lot of things being negatively impacted, and you’ll realize how silly it sounds. One website focusing on education presented a list of Issues Schools Face that Negatively Impacts Student Learning. Apparently it negatively impacted their ability to get nouns and verbs to agree.

Getting rid of “negatively impact” will positively impact improve your writing.


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