I said, "Hopefully, I will get better" to a friend and he said that I was using it incorrectly, stating that hopefully is an adverb meaning "full of hope" that modifies a verb. It sounds right, but I'm pretty sure that this usage of hopefully has become prevalent enough to be accepted for this use case. Am I right, is he right, or are we both right?

  • Here’s a delightful example of a usage commentator asserting that “hopefully” cannot be used as a sentence modifier. web.archive.org/web/20100524153208/http://www.soyouwanna.com/… – nohat Sep 9 '10 at 22:46
  • @nohat: LOL at this quote from that commentator (on page 6 of the 7): << Sorry, trekkies: "to boldly go" just ain't right. Most of our grammar is inherited from Latin, and the infinitives in Latin are one-word (e.g., "comprendere," "facire," and "manere"). We don't know why we ended up with two-word infinitives, but we don't think it's fair to go taking liberties with our infinitives just because they seem vulnerable. >> Wow. – psmears Jan 15 '11 at 12:05
  • You friend is painfully wrong. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disjunct_%28linguistics%29 – Pitarou Feb 6 '12 at 11:56
  • In more recent news, AP changes rules for “hopefully”. – Jason Apr 17 '12 at 16:50

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disjunct_(linguistics) has a section about "hopefully".

In the purest sense, your friend is correct, but "hopefully" has been dated as a disjunct back to the 18th century, so I'd say it is prevalent enough to be considered correct.

  • 14
    I would even go stronger and say that the friend is only correct in the pedantic, I-think-language-should-work-like-this kind of way. I like this argument from Random House: Although some strongly object to its use as a sentence modifier, hopefully meaning “it is hoped (that)” has been in use since the 1930s and is fully standard in all varieties of speech and writing: "Hopefully, tensions between the two nations will ease". This use of hopefully is parallel to that of certainly, curiously, frankly, regrettably, and other sentence modifiers. – Kosmonaut Aug 20 '10 at 18:22
  • 4
    There is a special place in my heart for answers that suggest that the pedants are 100s of years out-of-date. – Kevin Lawrence Jan 20 '11 at 6:20
  • 5
    Blah. This answer is definitely not bold enough. In the purest sense, your friend is completely incorrect. This supposed rule never made the slightest bit of sense, and why the pedants singled out hopefully for their scorn I'll never know. – Jason Orendorff Mar 20 '11 at 19:28
  • What on earth is 'the purest sense'? The one that perpetuates the etymological fallacy? – Edwin Ashworth Feb 22 '18 at 22:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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