A blog for copyeditors and for students who want to develop proficiency in copyediting
Let's think about all the forms of the word "hope":1. as a verb, as in "She hoped her son would write";2. as an adj., as in "She was hopeful her son would write";3. as a noun, as in "She had hope her son would write"; and4. as an adverb, as in "She looked hopefully out the window as the mailman walked toward her door with a letter in his hand."An adverb modifies a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. In number 4, "hopefully" modifies the verb "looked." How did she look out the window? Hopefully.When you say "Hopefully, it won't rain on our picnic," what is "hopefully" modifying? It's not modifying anything, and therefore, it should not be used. What you really mean is "I hope it won't rain on our picnic." Whenever you mean to say "I hope," use that phrase instead of "hopefully."
What about words such as "unfortunately," "absolutely," "surprisingly," etc...? Is it all right to use an adverb at the beginning of the sentence as long as there is a verb it may be modifying later on in the sentence? Do adverbs have to be next to what it modifies? Unfortunately, he gambled all his money away. (Correct? to gamble unfortunately?)Unfortunately, he did not win any money. (Incorrect? Nothing to modify?)
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