We so often hear of something having a negative impact, yet there are many more idiomatic ways of expressing this idea.
You can often use a verb or adjective instead, which allows you to be more precise or more colourful. Another option that often works is using a verb and modifying it with an adverb.
Here are some options for you.
Instead of has a negative impact, try some of the following. Of course, your choice will depend on context.
- cause harm to…
Add adverbs to modify the verbs, especially if you want to make them stronger. Seriously, badly, and severely are usually safe choices.
A few idioms:
- to leave a mark on
- to play havoc with
- to take a toll on
- to deal a blow to (you could add adjectives: ‘a crushing blow’, ‘a severe blow’, ‘a serious blow’)
- (informal) to do a number on
Instead of saying X has had a negative impact on the economy, you can use adjectives.
Either replace negative with something more descriptive, or say that the effect of X has been…(insert adjective).
Using adjectives allows you to play with register and emphasis, since some adjectives are much stronger or more formal than others.
- (formal) deleterious
Remember, there are a few words that have a similar meaning to negative impact. As always, they may or may not be suitable for the context:
You could also choose to use a synonym of impact, along with a different adjective. For example:
- damaging ramifications
- undesirable consequences
- adverse effects
- an unfortunate outcome
- catastrophic repercussions
Here are some headlines (hence the missing verbs) and sentences taken from the press. All of them could have used the term negative impact.
See if you can come up with a different phrase. There are many possible solutions.
Pandemic’s negative impact on mental health of women and young people is most serious.
In France, nearly half (47%) of people aged 18 to 24 said the pandemic had had a negative impact on their mental health.
Half of people aged 18-24 in the UK say the pandemic had a negative impact on their mental health.
Lockdown may have a negative impact on mental health
The negative psychological impact of coronavirus in Britain – a visual guide
Anxiety levels double and 80 per cent of people report negative impact of living with pandemic threat
Interested in more material like this to help you boost your retour? Why not join my monthly membership site, Rock your Retour, with tailor-made written materials and weekly live group classes (online)?
Sophie Llewellyn Smith, writing as The Interpreting Coach, is a coach, interpreter trainer, conference interpreter, designer of online teaching materials, and creator of Speechpool. Follow the blog to pick up tips on how to improve your interpreting skills.