English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What is the best placement of the word unfortunately in the following sentence -
1) "...though you must, unfortunately, be online for this feature to work."
2) "...though you must be online for this feature to work, unfortunately."

Also are the commas correctly used?

share|improve this question
Might come best after though. – Barrie England Oct 14 '13 at 18:02
@BarrieEngland please can you illustrate why it should be placed in that position over any other. – Suy Oct 14 '13 at 18:05
Because it alerts the reader to the bad news that follows. – Barrie England Oct 14 '13 at 18:30
First of all, it's not a sentence, but a sentence fragment. I suggest that filling in the ellipsis would help potential answerers. For what it's worth, the word "unfortunately" could also come before "though," which would require a comma after "though" and "unfortunately." "Unfortunately" could also come after "online." In the absence of the words you've elided, however, I agree with Barrie England. Why? Because it sounds better there! – rhetorician Oct 14 '13 at 18:35
Why don't you simply say 'Unfortunately you have to be on line for this feature to work'?. – WS2 Oct 14 '13 at 22:34

I'd like to propose an option #4 that dispenses with "though" entirely:

"Unfortunately, you must be online for this feature to work."

I don't see that "though" really adds anything, though there is a lack of context.

share|improve this answer
That's a good answer, dude. – Cyberherbalist Oct 15 '13 at 17:47

As you probably surmise, both are correct as to comma placement, but which usage is best is rather subjective, depending upon what you want to emphasize.

I would say that usage #1 tends to emphasize the unfortunatality of the need for being online, and usage #2 emphasizes it less. Taking @BarrieEngland's suggestion as usage #3, I would judge it as having the least emphasis of the unfortunatality among the three choices, namely because that placement seems to interrupt the flow of the phrase the least.

So, the best way to express the unfortunate need for being online, without making a big deal out of it, is to follow @BarrieEngland's suggestion...

3) "...though unfortunately you must be online for this feature to work."

And this version doesn't require commas.

share|improve this answer
How about that cool word "unfortunatality "? Dictionary.com doesn't think it's a word, but "unfortunateness" is a word. I like my new invention better, alas. – Cyberherbalist Oct 14 '13 at 18:24

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.