Wrongly Placed Adverbs: Hopefully, I hope

Consider this sentence: ‘Hopefully, he died’. Am I wishing ill on someone? Am I unfeeling and cruel? Do I benefit from his will? Not at all. It’s just another of those wrongly placed adverbs

Hopefully, he died

It’s not a sentence you would see very often but, if you did, it would mean something entirely different.

If he died ‘hopefully’ (in a state of hope), it probably means he had an eye on reaching a better place.

So many writers just don’t get this. And that’s why the word ‘hopefully’ is high on the list of wrongly placed adverbs, used incorrectly 90% of the time.

(See my earlier article on the use of the word ‘sadly’)

Hopefully we’ll win

‘Hopefully, we’ll win fifty million dollars’. I’m sure you’ve heard, and probably said, that many times.  But when you think about it, it’s not exactly what you mean.

It really should be written as ‘We hope we’ll win…’ Who wouldn’t? But are you really likely to be winning in a hopeful state, which is what ‘hopefully’ means?

‘Hopefully we’ll buy a ticket’ makes more sense. Buying a ticket in the hopeful state – that is ‘full of hope’ – is the only way to do it, otherwise why bother?

‘Winning hopefully’ seems a bit selfish, in my opinion. Winning is winning. Are you hoping to win again? And if it’s a fifty million dollar windfall, I’d say there’s pretty much nothing left to hope for.

In the box below, leave your comments about the strangest wrongly placed adverbs you’ve seen.

See more examples of Lazy Language

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