Here, have an impact, my treat

“You can have an impact on young lives.”

Yes, but you can make a greater impact on your readers if you use a strong verb like make instead of a weak verb — especially one of the lamest in the English language.

  • Have and all its forms constitute an evil family of words whose primary function in life is to infect and weaken your writing (and often confuse your readers; more on this some other day).

Especially when you’re commenting on an “impact” — something inherently powerful — it’s outrageous to drain its energy by speaking of it passively. To say you can “have an impact” is to turn the force of the idea around, to make it essentially backwards. Now, instead of delivering a blow, someone is keeping it — owning it — “having” it. You don’t keep an impact. You release it, so it lands somewhere else.

Much stronger, and more sensible to boot, to make an impact.

I urge you to make the following commitment (note that I did not urge you to have the following commitment; it would be technically correct, perhaps, but what a lame way to put it):

From this day forward, whenever you write have or any of its forms, catch yourself — scream in terror — delete the offending word — and replace it with something stronger.

It won’t be hard, because have is almost always the weakest choice you could have made.

Have. Glecch.

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