At school I was taught, “Adverbs modify verbs”. Is this something that you were taught as well? Do you know that adverbs do not necessarily modify only verbs? They can also modify whole clauses or sentences.
Hopefully is a word that has two meanings—depending on how it’s used, whether it’s modifying a verb, or a phrase.
So, I can write:
- I waited hopefully to get a new job.
Some time later (according to Grammar Girl, about 300 years ago) ‘hopefully’ took on a new meaning, that of ‘it is to be hoped’ or ‘I hope’.
- Hopefully the price will remain the same until we get approval to buy the new photocopier.
In the first example, the word ‘hopefully’ is modifying the verb ‘waited’. It is telling you how I waited.
The second example, however, uses the word ‘hopefully’ to modify the phrase ‘the price will remain the same’. I am hoping that the price will remain the same.
If you want to avoid misunderstandings, and the anger of some grammar sticklers, you can replace “hopefully” when it’s modifying a phrase or sentence with “I hope that” or “I am hoping that”.
Another adverb which works in a similar way is ‘normally’.
- He spoke normally, even though he knew that the audience couldn’t hear him because of the jackhammer working outside of the room.
In this example he spoke in a normal voice. He didn’t adjust his volume to take account of the extra noise.
- We normally have our weekly meeting on Friday mornings.
It is normal for us to have our weekly meeting on Fridays, not that we have our meeting in a normal manner.
I am hoping that this all makes sense to you. Happy writing.
Photo illustration by Gretchen McCulloch, image courtesy Wikimedia.