Can 'surprisingly' work as a conjunctive adverb to combine two sentences with a semicolon? Why or why not?

The question can be put in another way: what are the criteria of identifying an adverbial conjunctive? Are these conjunctives a fixed list to be memorized or are there some conditions once met we can use some regular adverb as an adverbial conjunctive?

Question has been asked somewhere else but received little help.

Edit: Here's a contrived example:

The steak was slightly undercooked; (surprisingly), I found it tasty.

I didn't find 'Surprisingly' on the list of common conjunctive adverbs and transitional phrases.

Edit 2: This page about Conjunctive Adverbs says "There are many conjunctive adverbs – in actual fact, here is a comprehensive list of conjunctive adverbs"

  • @RobbieGoodwin Here's a contrived example: The steak was slightly undercooked; (surprisingly), I found it tasty.
    – learner
    May 14, 2018 at 8:42
  • You know that you can't cross-post, in other words, you cannot (or shouldn't) post the same identical question on EL&U and on ELL. And what's more, neither should you place a bounty on both posts.
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 14, 2018 at 9:15
  • On EL&U we also expect that users show some evidence of research... why don't you list the "common conjunctive adverbs"? Or add a link?
    – Mari-Lou A
    May 14, 2018 at 9:19
  • A link to a list is added. I tried to delete the other post on ELL, but surprisingly, I couldn't- or should I say "; [however,] surprisingly, I couldn't". It turns out that questions on bounty cannot be deleted. 'Surprisingly' seems to collocate with 'but', so does this takes it off 'the list of conjunctive adverbs'?
    – learner
    May 14, 2018 at 9:32
  • 1
    thoughtco.com/conjunctive-adverb-grammar-1689909 is a reasonably good page on conjunctive adverbs. It's reasonable to conclude that there is no list memorize; ultimately, many adverbs can serve conjunctively.
    – Xanne
    May 17, 2018 at 5:29

3 Answers 3


According to TheFreeDictionary:

"She has never been to France; surprisingly, she speaks French fluently."

it's fine, qualifying the second clause as an unexpected result of the first clause.

Unexpected result

When the second clause is an unexpected result of the first clause, we can use the conjunctive adverbs nevertheless, nonetheless, surprisingly or still.


yourdictionary.com describes a conjunctive adverb thus:

The purpose of a conjunctive adverb is to show a relationship between clauses such as comparing or contrasting, showing a sequence of events, or showing a cause and effect.

The same page also has a table of examples of conjunctive adverbs, but states

This chart is a partial list of conjunctive adverbs. There are many more to choose from

Hence, it is reasonable to deduce that other adverbs can be used as conjunctive adverbs. In fact, their list includes conversely, incidentally, undoubtedly and certainly; all of which could be considered similar to surprisingly.


Since "surprisingly" relates to the verb "found," why would it be anything other than an adverb of manner? The clauses are divided by a semicolon, so why would any sort of conjunction be needed?

Here are some frequently used conjunctive adverbs:

after, again, also, as, before, besides, consequently, else, even, furthermore, hence, how, however, moreover, nevertheless, nonetheless, otherwise, since, so, still, till, then, thence, therefore, too, until, when, whence, where, wherefore, whither, while, whilst, why

Usually, to parse a word as a conjunctive adverb, the adverbial characteristic should relate to the verb in each clause, and not just the verb in its own clause. For example,

"She wept when she realized what had happened."

"when" is a conjunctive adverb relating to "wept" in the first clause, as well as relating to "realized" in the second.

In the problem sentence above, "surprisingly" seems only to relate to "found," making it, I believe, just an adverb of manner.

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