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  • The hospital informed us that both victims were happily recovering.
  • The hospital informed us that both victims were, happily, recovering.

What is the difference in meaning between the two? Aren't they the same?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

The two sentences are not quite the same. The first sentence reports that the victims are happily recovering; the implication is that they are all smiles while their legs are in traction, because they are naturally of a sunny disposition, because they are pleased to be alive, or for some other reason.

The second sentence states that the victims are recovering, with the aside that this is a happy occurrence. It doesn't mean the victims are happy; they may be in pain or in a towering rage and planning to sue, but they are nevertheless recovering.

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