Re this morning’s discussion of grammar and words that irk the readers, the number of comments surprised me. Note, though, that my post was mainly about usages that disturb me and my readers, not whether they are taken by grammarians as correct. Ergo lots of people corrected me about the use of the word “hopefully” to mean “I hope that” (a usage I don’t like) versus the meaning “with hope” (the one I use). I recognize that both usages are seen by some experts as fine, and of course readers noted that.
But there are ways and ways of commenting. Here is the good way: a comment made by reader Don:
“Hopefully,” used as a sentence adverb, is fine. If I may repeat what I have posted below, Richard Nordquist writes, “The sentence adverb has served a useful function in English since the 14th century. In the past few decades, however, one sentence adverb in particular has come in for a lot of criticism.” He’s referring to “hopefully.”
He goes on to give a variety of examples, saying, “Unlike an ordinary adverb–which is conventionally defined as a word that modifies a verb, adjective, or other adverb–a sentence adverb modifies a sentence as a whole or a clause within a sentence.
“Dozens of words can be used as sentence adverbs, among them actually, apparently, basically, briefly, certainly, clearly, conceivably, confidentially, curiously, evidently, fortunately, hopefully, however, ideally, incidentally, indeed, interestingly, ironically, naturally, predictably, presumably, regrettably, seriously, strangely, surprisingly, thankfully, theoretically, therefore, truthfully, ultimately, and wisely.”
Note that this is a polite and civil comment, and I took it in (though I still won’t use “hopefully” as an adverb).
Here is the way not to comment; I put this up and then banned the reader “malvolioblog” for incivility:
No, it doesn’t mean only that, any more than “thankfully” only means “done in a thankful manner.” Sorry, but this is a case, as with so-called “split infinitives,” where people are trying to be hyper-correct — and thereby getting it wrong. Please stick to your biology, Prof. Coyne, leave the grammar to us writers.
(I certainly agree with you, though, about ‘I could care less’, but that is becoming idiomatic, in speech, at least. Probably a losing battle. Never acceptable in writing, except as recorded speech.)
The part in bold is simply rude, and I don’t want people like this commenting here. If you’re a first-time reader, read “Da Roolz” for commenting on the left bar, or go here. You’ll then understand why a comment like that accrues its author a permanent ban.
I don’t understand why people can’t be civil like Don. Why must they pull rank and be rude to their host? Oh well, such is humanity.