Lemma 10.71.8. Let $R$ be a ring. Let $M$, $N$ be $R$-modules. Any $x\in R$ such that either $xN = 0$, or $xM = 0$ annihilates each of the modules $\mathop{\mathrm{Ext}}\nolimits ^ i_ R(M, N)$.

**Proof.**
Pick a free resolution $F_{\bullet }$ of $M$. Since $\mathop{\mathrm{Ext}}\nolimits ^ i_ R(M, N)$ is defined as the cohomology of the complex $\mathop{\mathrm{Hom}}\nolimits _ R(F_{\bullet }, N)$ the lemma is clear when $xN = 0$. If $xM = 0$, then we see that multiplication by $x$ on $F_{\bullet }$ lifts the zero map on $M$. Hence by Lemma 10.71.5 we see that it induces the same map on Ext groups as the zero map.
$\square$

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