Thursday, May 20, 2010

Can you start a sentence with “hopefully”?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Some people used to say you could not, but grammar books now say you can. The controversy used to be about whether hopefully is an “independent comment” like finally, actually, regrettably, fortunately, and many other words. These words act as asides to the reader to indicate the writer’s opinion or attitude about the entire sentence. If you need a more technical term, they are “sentential modifiers,” adverbs that modify the entire sentence.

If you are curious about some of the players in the controversy, they are The Careful Writer by Theodore Bernstein, The Chicago Manual of Style, and The Gregg Reference Manual. My opinion, stated above, agrees solidly with The Gregg Reference Manual. Chicago says that the usage I cite above is “here to stay,” but snips, “But many careful writers deplore the new meaning” [emphasis added—could this be a nod to readers of Bernstein?] Bernstein has not been updated, fyi, since 1965.

Yet another voice in the squabble is The Oxford Dictionary of American Usage and Style, by Bryan Garner. The advice here? All the controversy has ruined this word. Never use it at all, because no matter what you do, someone will think it is wrong.

Meanwhile, utterly dismisses Bernstein and all critics and solidly supports the use of hopefully as an independent comment.

So there you have it. My vote is to use it until people get over its history. After all, most people have long forgotten the “impact” wars of the late 1980s. But on the other hand, I recently encountered “impact is a noun only” still alive and well in the style guide of a large organization. Ultimately, I guess, each writer must make up their* own mind.

*Watch for a future article on the use of their.


Kylie Jenner said...

This short article posted only at the web site is truly good.Grammarly

Curtis Albert said...

This is a very interesting piece on grammar. This post is very informative. I only hope that many students will get to see it. Thanks for sharing.Application Essay Writing Help for Military Law

Nadin Broun said...

Wow, great post,, thanks for sharing. I really enjoy reading and I hope with the help of such articles I will become better writer, but now I still use this service to check my essay. It is ok, I like it, but I dream of writing error free essays without any revision.

Robert Nelms said...

The possible guides and probable opinions as mentioned above would help students in bringing around all those values which must have been understood by the one to regard about. check the english grammar

Innocent Saqib said...

Thanks for sharing the post.. parents are worlds best person in each lives of individual..they need or must succeed to sustain needs of the family. You should comment manually.

aliya seen said...

Thank you for advising us rightly. Sometimes we have to paraphrase to avoid plagiarism because now a days people are using bad ways of writing.

Assignment Help said...

I Always like to peruse The Quality and happy I discovered this thing in you post.
mba assignment writing

Singapore Assignment Help said...

Your website is really cool and this is a great inspiring article. Thank you so much.
My assignment help

Students Assignment Help said...

To avail our Assignment Help UK service students can just visit our site "Students Assignment Help". During the exam most of the students does not have enough time to complete their college exam so they can easily avail our service.