Most people use hopefully to mean “it is hoped that,” as in the following sentence:

Example 1: Hopefully, the rain will stop in time for the outdoor concert.

Hopefully can also be used to describe performing an action “in a hopeful manner,” as the following example demonstrates:

Example 2: We hopefully waited for the winner of the competition to be announced.

Example 2 illustrates what is considered by some to be the only correct usage of hopefully, though Example 1 seems to be the more common usage.

So, what is all the fuss about? The argument against using hopefully in the manner of Example 1 is that although hopefully is an adverb, it’s not modifying anything. The rain (in Example 1) is not performing an action in a hopeful manner. Other adverbs, such as thankfully, frankly, and honestly, are used similarly.

Though there is still debate among writers and language purists over the correctness of using adverbs this way, in April 2012, the Associated Press Stylebook editors broke down and approved the usage of hopefully in the “it is hoped that” sense.

To avoid the issue altogether, there is always the option to use I hope or we hope instead of hopefully. Or you can go with the Associated Press and the masses and continue to use hopefully. Hopefully, no one will correct you.

Posted in Word Choice.

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  1. Mezz Inshwet says:

    Well, I am planning to write some articles on Grammar. I just found your blog, it’s a great inspiration.