Last week, the Associated Press Stylebook announced a significant change in their guidelines: the word “hopefully” (as in “it is hoped”) can now appear in newspapers. According to the Washington Post, this makes them barbarians.
You may be wondering, what is the AP Stylebook? And why does it matter? Groups of professionals compile style guides to standardize editing practices within their field. (Did you have to write a bibliography in MLA Style in college? That was based on the style guide of the Modern Language Association, a consortium of English professors.) The American Psychological Association (APA) maintains a style guide for psychologists. The Chicago Manual of Style is the go-to guide for magazine and book editors. The AP Stylebook recommends writing standards for journalists; so potentially, their decision impacts every newspaper in the country.
Style guides, like dictionaries, are often attacked from two sides. In one camp, strict prescriptivists do not want written language to conform easily and quickly to the constant changes that occur in spoken speech. Rather, they’d prefer the style guide suggest what is best, not what is common. Batting for the other team, descriptivists think style suggestions should shift based on how language is used every day. If people say “can’t”, writers should use the contraction. (How do new words get into the dictionary? Find out here.)
Style guides typically discuss grammar and punctuation, and they even weigh in on capitalization standards. However, as the web transforms how we communicate, standards change rapidly. Take the word webpage. Like the word Internet, many style guides recommend capitalizing the word Webpage. Then in the latest update to the Chicago Manual of Style in 2010, they suggested that the words web, website, and web page be lowercase, while Internet and World Wide Web remain uppercase.
So what does this have to do with the word hopefully? For four hundred years, the word “hopefully” was an adverb that meant “in a hopeful manner” as in the sentence, “We worked hopefully and energetically, thinking we might finish first.” In the 1930s, it began to operate as a sentence adverb meaning “it is hoped.” Here’s an example: “Hopefully, we will get to the show on time.” For an unknown reason, the editing establishment rejected this shift in spoken speech, even though other words (like curiously, certainly, and frankly) are also sentence adverbs. The word “hopefully” has remained in ambiguous territory and was not commonly used in print, though it is very common in spoken language.
Even though the AP has now accepted it, hopefully-the-sentence-modifier still irks some. Not only did the Washington Post say, “The barbarians have finally done it”, but Rob Reinalda called it “lazy and subjective.” Apparently, using “hopefully” makes you a lazy barbarian. We’d hope not.
What do you think about this change? Is it about time? Or a crying shame?
I didn’t even know this problem existed untill now! “lazy and subjective”? What a laugh!
Actually a well-written article on dictionary.com. I’m amazed.
It’s just a word. Hopefully, people will get over it.
If “hopefully” now officially means “it is hoped,” then “hopelessly” now officially means “it is NOT hoped.”
Because I say so. Prescriptivism in action.
This is so dumb! Using the word hopefully doesn’t mean your lazy! If anything they’re too lazy to NOT put it in the dictionary. If we use words often, why aren’t they in the dictionary? What makes a word officially a word? If we use it and it has meaning, why isn’t it? Ugh, people these days! Hopefully, this will not happen, again.
While I am a fan of their being some standards to hold our language up against, I can’t help but feel that it is nevertheless an evolving beast, and as such we have to accept common usage as being a valid way for words and their usage to evolve.
If this ‘new’ form of ‘hopefully’ has been used for around 80 years, then I do not see why we should be so hesitant to recognise this mutation in meaning.
(p.s. any horrible usage of language in this post is unintentional, and in no way me trying to be ironic)
wow. Just. Wow. X3
It’s just a word. Hopefully, people will get over it.
Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/hopefully/#xcdE04tUDUEj89Pj.99
Hopefully dictionary.com will soon come to realize the importance of carefully reviewing their articles prior to posting them online. In paragraph 2 you state, “The American Physiological Association (APA) maintains a style guide for psychologists.” Sorry, but we psychologists don’t rely on PHYSIOLOGISTS to define our writing parameters; instead, we turn to the American PSYCHOLOGICAL Association to develop and refine our guidelines.
I don’t think that the word should have been changed over. The language boards are allowing just about everything through now. “Brothers-in-law” can be said “brother-in-laws.” I was told that the derogatory version of “gay” has wormed its way into Webster’s. The status of language in general is declining, but I still cling hopefully to my aging English books.
I don’t know why people will be mad for using such a word as hopefully. Like frenemy, it can be a “new” word in English and it’s not even as slangy as frenemy.
i don’t see why it matters, i use the word all the time, like
“hopefully you will stop acting so dumb”
Washington Post is run by drama queens. I’m not saying they can’t have that opinion, but barbarians? What are they, in second grade?
I never even noticed this difference even though I use it all the time!
As much as dictionary.com does everything in it’s power to avoid the reality of the FACT that the Anglo-Saxon people are German and brought their “Anglish” or English dialect of Friesisch German with them from Germany when they emigrated to England, we have the word in German. German being the root of English and not Latin or Greek as you have been constantly misled to believe. Only the Pax Romanus and Norman French at Battle of Hastings allowed for latin influence creating the English hybrid we now know. Old English is the middle link…
So far I’ve counted two spelling errors in the above comments, the incorrect usage of “their” and a punctuation error using a comma. Come on, people, this is important stuff, according to the AP stylists, and you’re showing your interest by commenting. The least you could do is better than your typical text messages. “i cant B their B-4 lunch. “
While we’re on the subject, tuck in those commas! They belong inside the quotation marks (or write the whole thing and British and pull your strays out, but please, just pick one and stick with it).
This is retarded and outrageous. If you use a word for many some years, why not add it to the dictionary? And the fact that they said that we’re barbarians for using it is retarded. They should be arrested for publicly insulting the public peoples!
A dingo ate your baby!
Oh, it makes you a barbarian. I knew this bully once. He always said “Hopefully,” the condescending prick. Therefore! If anyone says it, the process also applies in reverse.
What an article
As a professional journalist in defense of the article’s general point, the AP stylebook is NOT a dictionary. It is not prescribing words that should or should not exist in the language. It is a guide for word use in journalistic publications. The word “hopefully” IS subjective, and should not appear in journalistic print except as part of a quotation or an editorial essay.
Also, the third paragraph says “conjunction” when it actually means “contraction”.
I think most of the commenters are missing the point completely. The word ‘hopefully’ is now accepted for written news articles. Apparently reading for comprehension is being lost as quickly as proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Promoting “hopefully” to legitimacy is long, long overdue. …And to you Grammar Meanies up there: let go of the nastiness and just be nice to people. You’ll be happier for it.
I really don’t think that it matters so much as to require an article to be published in it’s regards. The only thing that I think is worth mentioning about this is the apparently common belief that every commonly used word should be added to the dictionary. “Bootyliscous,” is now in the dictionary because of a mediocre pop star. Hopefully, we can avoid further tragedy’s of this nature can be prevented with a modicum of common sense. For example, “hopefully,” is a relatively dignified word and should be welcomed into the realm of proper language. “Bootyliscous,” is just a disgrace to all English speakers and should be promptly be removed from the realm of proper English.
+1 Young’n (post #2).
A well written blog on dictionary.com; wonders never cease.
This is good, as I have been conscious of my “bad” grammar (i.e. “improper” use of hopefully) for quite some time. A few things about the article and comments: some responders are obviously not educated, which is fine, but the writer of the article should at least do a few edits before posting. Here’s my count:
1. “to” is needed before “write” (parenthetical ref.)
2. FYI: MLA includes foreign language profs too
3. second to last sentence “so” should follow a comma not a semicolon, as it is a coordinating conjunction
1. Use of “best” (language usage is not “better” because it is older–language is arbitrary)
2. “tuck in your commas” (as one commenter already noted)
I could go on, but I won’t. I’m tired.
One commentator mentioned a German connection. Hmm…
In German, there is hoffnungsvoll, which means full of hope. For “hopefully” in its alleged incorrect use, there is hoffentlich. You might call it hopedly. there is no quick and easy translation. Hope may turn to Angst. To translate the German “hoffentlich” into English, go with the Zeigeist! Hopefully,” hopefully” seems to have the correct ring.
I am very upset about this news. There goes my good week. Lazy and barbaric is absolutely correct. Hopefully, acceptance of this bastardization will never become universal.
i don’t think using the word “hopefully ” makes u that “lazy barbarian” !!! language change as well as the usage of the words .. so i think the dictionary is the one in the dock not the word itself .. it’s used widely as a formal word long ago.
It is amusing to me to see the degree to which people become outraged when the slightest of changes take place. It is even more enjoyable for me, when a change is proposed, to see all the outrage some people exhibit and the lengths to which some will go just to oppose those changes. I am not a barbarian because I use such colloquial terms in my writing. “Hopefully” people will just relax.
I’m sure this issue was raised by the same people who use profanity and other unsavory words or terms. If the same concentration was put on wiping out profanity then you would have at “hot topic.”
I wasn’t able to get past the missing word in “Did you have write a bibliography in…”
I am a prescriptivist as defined in this article. There are standards of language that I would like to see upheld. I find the decline of “proper” English appalling and am saddened by the fact that college graduates don’t speak or write English properly any longer. Even our President, Barack Obama, who speaks excellent English usually, doesn’t seem to know the correct use of “an” instead of “a” before a word that begins with a vowel, e.g., “an apple,” not “a apple.” As regards “hopefully,” my objection isn’t that it shouldn’t be considered acceptable as a ’sentence adverb’ in common use of language, but I think the use of it should remain barred from use by professionals writing serious news copy. Hopefully, they will stick to the facts instead of their personal hopes.
Eric, please do not use the word “retarded” as an insult. “Stupid,” “silly,” “nonsensical,” and “asinine” would all have worked as well, and they don’t carry any additional offensive meanings.
From my understanding, the article is saying that people that write for published magazines, newspapers, online news sources, etc…; follow the AP stylebook. Meaning, in the past, it would have been written, “It is hoped that the Cardinals will win the trophy”. Where as now it might be written as, “Everyone here is thinking the same thing, hopefully the Cardinals will win the trophy”.
‘Hopefully’ has been part of the dictionary for a long time, it’s just the people that make a living writing are being held to a higher standard. And I think that’s the way it should be. In a world where everyone writes in slang or text speak, there needs to be something that shows what good grammar and spelling is really like.
What a poorly written article! For example, in the first sentence of the article and in the last sentence of the second paragraph, “their” should be “its”; in the third sentence of the second paragraph, “field” should be “fields”; in the fourth sentence of the third paragraph, “prescriptivsts” is misspelled; in a few cases, the quote signs should appear after the commas not before; etc. ad nauseum. This is particularly egregious for an article concerning usage!
The time invested in expressing their outrage at the victory of the barbarian horde could have been spent much more productively.
Hopefully, this will be the case in the future; although, I strongly doubt it.
[...] ‘Hopefully’, wishful thinking has not become the foundation of journalism. — ‘That’s Entertainment’ on the screen is no news just more paternalism. — In depth reporting of the facts — Of human perception — with bombs bursting in air — staged or edited redacts — The thoughts of some fictional conception. — Mayhap never finding though seeking the truth — to care — ‘Hopefully’ with compassionate reception. –>>L.T.Rhyme [...]
Firstly, “hopefully” IS in the dictionary. It is not in a lot of STYLE GUIDES. There is a difference between the two. Get it right. Secondly, Abby, I’m sure you’re a lovely person but please don’t use “your” when you mean “you’re”.
I love Grammar Girl’s explanation of this. “Hopefully” is still working as an adjective, it’s just modifying the entire clause instead of a noun inside the clause. You can use luckily and gratefully the same way, but for some reason people don’t geek out about those.
Some of the responses above talk about adding words to a dictionary. I believe that the article is speaking about “style guides,” not dictionaries. Or did I miss something?
Thanks for another interesting article.
“Hopefully” we will all move into the 21st century!
I think the word, “your” should be added by the APS as a contraction of a contraction for, “you are” (c.f. Abby above). That way the majority of people, on the Internet, at least, would be using the word correctly.
Hopefully the Washington Post will get over themselves. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA SEE WHAT I DID THERE I’M SO CLEVER AND IRONIC
While this example seems extreme, as someone who works in editing and does have to refer to such guides, I’m glad they draw a line somewhere. I wouldn’t want every cheap faddish word being crystallized for use in publication.
Quite frankly, what we do to this language is barbaric. “Descriptivsts” are idiots. Let us just let the language deterioriate becasue we are too lazy to know how to use it properly.
Although usually one to hold the line for proper English usage (having long chafed at the decline which brought “different than” into common use as opposed to the correct “different from”), nevertheless I applaud the relaxation of standards in this one instance.
I remain hopeful that floodgates will not be opened. Though frowned upon, the use of “hopefully” has long been pervasive and truly useful. It differs widely from “different than,” the use of which is clearly lazy and barbarous and—though common—grates upon the trained ear. Thankfully, “hopefully” has arrived. May “different than” not soon follow suit.
The thing is we seem to forget how the controversy arouse in first place. Oirginally “hopefully” as an adverb told you how the speaker felt, such as “I shall hopefully get to the meeting on time”, in other words, it was me who was hoping to get to meeting on time, or “she hopefully called him on the phone that her son might come and visit her”, She was hoping he might visit.
So it was the speaker referring to him or herself being full of hope that they will succeed . After a time people started to transfer the hopefulness to the object they were discussing. Such as “Hopefully the sun will be shining tomorrow”, Well, as we know there is no way that the sun was doing any such thing, but it was us who were hoping. It was this transferrence from speaker to the object prescriptionists were referring to which they didn’t like and which caused the problem.
It was only then that “hopefully” became a problem. Actually, you have similar problems with “mercifully” or “thankfully”, to name but a few. “Mercifully she didn’t suffer too long”, well, she wasn’t full of mercy when she suffered, it was us who felt mercy for her, and “thankfully, help came in time”, it is us who feel thankful that help came in time, “help” as an abstract term has no capacity for thankfulness.
So it is not the adverbs which are disputed but the use to which they have been put. Of course, it now seems no longer that much of an issue..
I feel like the bigger problem with the word “hopefully” and the reason why it was frowned upon for use in newspaper journalism had to do more with the bias it conveys. By using “hopefully” in that manner, it shows that the writer has a bias toward one side, rather than the unbiased presentation of information that newspapers are reputable for. Hoping a lost girl is found (while no person may hope otherwise) is still just as biased as shoping a serial killer is found innocent, despite the two being polar opposites.
How pathetic am I that I noticed two typos in this article ?
For heavens sake! It’s fine to use a word such as ‘hopefully’ colloquially as a part of dialogue, but to make a colloquialism official is taking it a bit too far. I swear that one day I’m going to create a lot of useless words, convince people to use them a lot publicly/on television, and then demand that they be recorded in the dictionary. Like my new, i.e., just thought of, word of ’squirrdlejuppe’…(definition currently being devised). Perhaps I should just change the meanings of current words, though, e.g., toast, butter, or jelly. Oh, wait…that already happened to jelly…just butter and toast to go then…
@ J J Rousseau,
I didn’t eat the baby, did the dingo eat the baby? is one of my very, very, very hilarious inside jokes with my friends…..
you rock for saying that!!!!
love peace kenz
I wonder how they feel about the words “anal retentive”?
Many times, this clash in between points of view has lead to many nonsensical arguments in the world of grammar. Changes in the grammatical rules in any language must come sooner or later; for a word as commonly used as “hopefully”, in the sense of a sentence adverb, the time has certainly come.
No language is static, but we cannot deny the fact that it is necessary to keep some of its fundamental structures in order to retain the beautiful complexity that is withheld. That is where I am most conflictive. When has the right time to incorporate new words or structures come? How many years should it linger in our spoken language before it is accepted as something appropriate for writing?
well, i’d just say Inshallah – problem solved!
I must say that the article was informative, but the comments were hilarious. I laughed so hard. I often wonder why people post comments to articles. I always believed that it was to express their opinions to others, but upon reading these comments I now know that it is for comedic relief. Thanks for the laughs!!
Hopefully the prescriptivists like my post.
Hopefully, wise minds will find where to draw the line. Personally, I’m going to commit suicide the day things like “where are you *at*”, “we have a long *ways* to go” and “I’m waiting *on* you to come” are legitimized. Even though “ain’t” has been in the dictionary for decades, one still doesn’t encounter it in mainstream writing. Let’s hope these other atrocities keep their distance.
I love language. I delight in well written articles. Writing style and usage are an essential and effective means of “weeding out nonsense”. When I read, I routinely give my attention to properly written articles. I regularly dismiss the poorly written works of others. A notable exception is service work – when I am providing a service to others, I give my attention regardless – consciously. Finally, I continue to improve my writing competence in order to remain relevant.
Why do we need these stupid guidelines? Newspapers can individually set their own, right?
Another thing: Correcting each other’s grammer is the thing that my stupid second grade sister would do. GROW UP!!
Whoops, looks like another load of crybabies is on the way.
P.S. I don’t care if you get mad at me. I still call you crybabies
I do agree that it is a subjective word, and should not appear in journalistic work. There might be some exceptions, but for the most part, it seems to defy the journalistic goal of objectivity.
Apparently, using “hopefully” makes you a lazy barbarian.
Read more at http://hotword.dictionary.com/hopefully/#p5UxLThBHv7mW45J.99
lmao they r so dumb. the natural way of language is to constantly morph and evolve..it is stupid to try to set rigorous standards in the first place, like trying to immortalize it. EVERYTHING IS IMPERMANENT
Using “hopefully” as “it is to be hoped” in speaking does NOT make you a “lazy barbarian”. It does not make you anything, for that matter. It is just the use of a word. Using it in serious articles like the news is not very professional, but it still does NOT make you a “lazy barbarian”. People should stop crying over how we use a word, because it is just the use of a word. Hopefully, people will eventually stop being drama kings and queens, because it is not that important. These people are making a mountain out of a molehill here, and it’s getting ridiculous.
I would have enjoyed participating in the discussions among the AP editors. But wading through these comments is frustrating and a little scary for me. Even the comments that show an understanding of the relevant grammatical/syntactical issues are (with very few exceptions) are riddled with spelling, punctuation, and usage errors of all sorts, not to mention the typos that pervade virtually all discussion boards.
“Hopefully” should never be used as a sentence adverb in a straight news story. (See Christina’s comment at 10:23 a.m.) Even in columns and features where the writer is free to express subjectivity, its use bothers me, although it may not be easy to make a case against it in light of the examples given in various posts above (e.g., curiously, thankfully).
I do find it funny that people who can’t spell “grammar” and don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re” take the time to read and comment on articles on this site. That’s fine–it’s a free “country”–but I’d suggest a bit more reading and a little more care in constructing the comments.
Now I’d better leave the site before I run into something really ridiculous, such as an argument on the proper use of “comprise.”
I can’t believe it. Hopefully is a favorite word of mine. Using hopefully does not make you a lazy barbarian and is not lazy and subjective. This is a total laugh!
I sort of have to agree with that other kid a few posts above this, at least about the grammar corrections. I do have to say that newspapers should have standardized guidelines to some degree just so that readers from different areas will all be able to comprehend the articles without spending all of their time on dictionary.com. But condemning “hopefully” is simply sad… Someone apparently got very bored and very vengeful in the offices of the Washington Post. Hopefully… well, nothing. But using the word seemed fitting, don’t you think?
The only problem I can see with using “hopefully” in newspaper articles is that it could ruin objectivity or neutrality in article-writing.
@Dieter – rose, not rouse. @author of this article – “their” in first sentence should be “its” and “After/in 1930 does not need to be followed by a comma… But I have always opposed the lazy “hopefully” and instead use the verb or say “God willing”, “inshallah”, “with a bit of luck”, etc. instead. The Germans have been saying “hoffentlich” for a long time but I don’t believe “hoffent” exists. It’s sad when a language gets made more ugly and illogical. In the 70s (no comma) I once had a set of business-type cards printed asking people not to use the expression and handed them out to anyone I heard use it. Now it’s too late. Shame!
It doesn’t matter, look at the Constitution
Freedom of Speech
Freedom of Press
Ich hoffe? In der Hoffnung? Gefällt dir, dass besser? (- :
Well, it has finally come clear to me. Ambitions I’ve had to achieve litteracy are finished. My soul is fraught. Subsumed and doomed.
Alas, Hopefullessness !!… aarrrggghh! The abbyss awaits.
Give up all hope, ye who enter here…
@ Glynis Sylvia
Only two!? Out of eight or ten? That is pathetic.
This is how language works. It is evolved by those who speak it.
It’s a shame.
Some really witty stuff up there. If you wrote it, then thanks for taking the time.
oh god…. my friend used the word “hopefully” and all i said was, “BARBARIAN” no, seriously! in my opinion, whoever uses hopefully too much will be called a barbarian someday! hmph
One word, three letters: LOL
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Umm… if the word ‘defriend’ can worm its way into the Oxford Dictionary, then why can’t this definition of ‘hopefully’?
The reference “lazy barbarian” is an exaggeration. I think it’s fine to have the word “hopefully” in the dictionary, but I don’t think it should be in the AP style guide. “Hopefully” implies personal opinion, and the formal articles written by these guidelines are not supposed to include first or second person.
I believe Stephen is correct. I cannot make sense of that sentence from the third paragraph unless “conjunction” is replaced with “contraction”.
Also, Dicky: I am fairly certain you are joking, to which I say, “Ha ha, well played.”
With regard to the fifth paragraph, I wonder whether the difference lies in the fact that “hope” is a verb. That paragraph juxtaposes “hopefully” with “curiously”, “certainly” and “frankly”.
You can hope, but you cannot curious, certain or frank. Similarly, you can be curious, be certain and be frank, but you cannot be hope, generally speaking.
It is entirely possible that I am just talking out of my hat, but it doesn’t seem right in my mind to put “hopefully” in the same league as “curiously”, etc. I confess that I used to arguably misuse it, but only out of uncritical mimicry.
BUT there is “thankfully”… I suppose I should be giving myself a slap on the wrist for arguably having misused that as a sentence adverb, as I am sure that I have!
I think of myself as a 99% prescriptivist who likes to avoid slippery slopes, particularly for the sake of preventing problematic ambiguity.
Changing the rules because the rules are often broken is generally unwise (but not always).
Oh, I just read Dieter’s comment! Nice work.
+1 to Sylissa and Bernardo Aguilar
I like this story
Ahhh, alas. One of the last bastions of the hope of feeling superior to less language beings is lost. Hopefully, I note the world must be doing just fine if this is something worth giving this much attention.
Should have said,
‘Apparently, using “hopefully” makes you a lazy barbarian.
And here I thought the fuss was that “hoping” would betray some form of bias. You would think a newspaper stylebook would be more concerned about that than sentence adverbs.
Hopefully is a strong word indeed. In strict business terms, there are to be no emotional strings. This was pointed out to me by a real estate agent when selling houses. There’s two kinds of housing markets. Investment properties, and those looking for a home (to live in and “live life”). Obviously the market for people looking into buying their dream home is getting the agent “tied up in emotional strings” apparently. Hopefully? Hopefully what? There is no hope. That’s what’s processing up in a purely, business orientated mind till you learn to let go and show some emotion. Then there is also the art of suggesting someone to turn down the feelings a lil’. “You’re airing me out with emotion here brother/sister”……….. and just laugh about it.
Don’t say this if you’re the angry type, or a super-conservative German. I don’t think that person will know how to take you.
After reading the foregoing, the best I can say about American literacy is “American’s may be stupid, but they ain’t smart neither.”
Style guides proscribe consistency… You have both “webpage” and “web page” in paragraph 4. Not that this blog usually shows evidence of having been proofread, but still…
Nice to know that we have our priorities in order. Gas is 4 bucks a gal., all my
buddies are out of a job, China is taking over the world right in front of our eyes, but at least we’re all clear on how to use the word hopefully!
All is well with my soul.
I think the AP Style Book is a bunch of garbage created by self-centered egotists.
HOPEFULLY, yes, as in: it is hoped…hopefully, the AP and it’s writers will find something better to do with their time (like go away) and leave people to express themselves via the written word as they see fit!
come to 203 everybody
I don’t think using “hopefully” means you are lazy. I believe that “hopefully” sounds slightly less mature and refined than “it is hoped.” When I read “hopefully,” I hear, “I hope.” When I read “it is hoped,” I hear “the general public or the subject of this article hopes.”
What irritates me is that “hopefully” – among other words – is overused to the point of being nauseating! Other overused words include “amazing” – gag! Let’s talk about getting back to phonics and BASICS! For cryin’ out loud, most people don’t even know the difference between “their”, “there” and “they’re” – nor do they CARE! They don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”. And don’t even get me started on SPELLING! The dumbing down of America . . . . I find myself being ridiculed and criticized for using CORRECT ENGLISH. How pathetic is that?
The AP is a writing guide for journalists, as pointed out in this article about the word “hopefully”. One would hope that in doing research, all information was researched thoroughly. Unfortunately, though, many writing guidelines were mentioned, and one (that I noticed immediately) was specifically not researched. The APA Publication Guide – the writing guidebook of the American Psychological Association – is used not exclusively by psychologists, as indicated in this article, but by professionals in all social sciences fields (including sociology, counseling, health promotion and education). Hopefully, such oversights will cease in future articles.
Hopefully is an adverb. As such, its use as a synonym for “I hope” or “It is to be hoped” is erroneous. In addition, use of the word “impacts” as a verb in the second paragraph of this article is also wrong, as impact is a noun, although it is often used incorrectly as a verb by those ignorant of proper word usage.
The problem with “hopefully,” other than it’s an adverb, not a noun, is that it’s imprecise. e.g.: “Hopefully, he’ll come today” could mean, assuming “hopefully” is used correctly here, which it is not, that he’ll come with hope or that someone, who is not identified by the word or the sentence, hopes he’ll come today.
Language is a tool. Tools, to be effective, must be used properly. You wouldn’t cut your lawn with a scissors, would you?
Hopefully next time, you will come up with a better article to write about.
Wow, I use that word all the time in reports and when I gossip with my friends! I thought that it was a word, and that people can use it in their opinions when they give a good thought about something. I have already seen it in newspapers before, so why do they say it wasn’t allowed until now??? Hopefully I’m not a barbarian, cuz I don’t eat spaghetti with my hands like barbarians do!!!! I think its time we make a stand
Hopefully, the Post will accept this change and worry more about getting the facts straight in their stories.
I would think that the editors at AP would have better things to worry about, especially with the current state of word obliteration, i.e.OMG, LOL, LMAO and others that have taken over with the messaging craze.
Also, Kurt should pay attention to what is written before criticizing…you did in fact write Psychological, not Physiological in the article. As a former proofreader, I notice things too. My wife is a psychologist, so that type of typo would catch my eye.
heeeheeee….. yeah, hope so!
I believe that magazines, journals, and similar publications should be very wary of using “hopefully” as a sentence adverb. It expresses a personal opinion. For example, “Hopefully, the Brewers will win the World Series this year,” means that the person saying it (or publication issuing it) promotes this view. If the publication writes, “Public sentiment in Wisconsin hopes that the Brewers will win the next World Series,” exhibits public opinion on a topic.
It is more acceptable if they use “hopefully” on subjects that cannot be controversial. This sentence, “Hopefully, it will rain soon so that the corn crop will not be delayed,” is perfectly acceptable.
Newspapers and the like should be as unbiased as possible. As a sentence adverb”hopefully” precedes a personal opinion. This is probably why it has taken so long to include “hopefully” in the AP Stylebook.
OMG its a word now get over it.
What a load of nincompoop. It’s high time journalism took a leaf from the fiction side of the aisle, and start using prefixes and suffixes in an interpretive manner. It should be based on the discretion of the writers/editors, not some board of wanna-be highfalutin doctorates.
First of all, Stephen, it DOES say contraction. The fact that you think you’re so smart trying to correct something that is already correct is pretty annoying. Secondly, The fact that ninety percent of you used a “hopefully” in your comment is ridiculous. I am only thirteen and I am more mature than that. Last of all, the Washington Post is being completely hypocritical about the “barbarianism” comment; they put stupidly barbaric articles out all the time. I just wasted fifteen minutes reading the article and the comments down to Stephen’s, and I saw an incorrectly used “your,” a misplaced comma, and a whole bunch of ludicrous reponses. Some of these people are absurdly uneducated. I am disgusted.
@Cyberquill nice! made me laugh!
Hopefully, this will all blow over.
@Archon – thanks for pointing that out – I was thinking the same thing…gave me a good laugh
Interesting article. Thank you for sharing this info. I don’t think that people who use “hopefully” incorrectly are barbarians, but I do try to use the word sparingly and correctly in the traditional sense. What I don’t understand is the anger and sarcasm of some of the posters on this site.
OMG. I didn’t know that! that’s cool.
whatevs braddahs. I’m outta here with all this flapping about some word.
It is reassuring to see that there is still interest in language and its proper use. And disheartening to see that even some of those interested in the proper use of language (i.e. those who responded to the story) use “your” for “you’re” and “their” for “there”, among other errors. Of course English is a living language, and, as with all living languages, changes in usage will happen over time. A long time ago, I was given by a student of language the definition of a good change and a bad change in the language: If the change allows people to express their thought precisely with fewer words, it is a good change. If it causes them to require more words to express their thought precisely, it is a bad change. An example of a bad change is the misuse of “verbal” to mean “oral” — things which are verbal may be oral or written, so this misuse makes it unclear which is meant. “Hopefully” may be a good change, as it conveys the hope of the speaker in a single word, which is simpler than other ways of saying it. In any case, my congratulations to all for a stimulating discussion!
There has always been a battle between puritanism ans colloquialism. Hopefully, die-hard, ..and others finding their way in English language. Some of the foreign language words – Hindi, French, Persian, roots became too irresistible to be ignored by Oxford and Webster’s. Somehow these words barge in the holy territory of the language just because they are harmless and add to the diversity.
I, as lover of English language, won’t call it barbarian though. But, yes, if any word harms the sanctity of the language, i do call it barbaric. Some of the barbaric words that i usually hear around me and see on social network, and that i can’t get to terms with, are – frenemy, brother-in-laws, co-sister, babes (when addressed to an individual), how’s you. And, the list is getting bigger.
What does it matter? I thought ‘hopefully’ was an English word two million years ago! How can using it be lazy. It sounds nice and short and informal. And it’s longer than ‘I hope’!
Hopefully the AP Stylebook won’t be so picky in future….
please send an email here: firstname.lastname@example.org
for feedback on this intro on “hopefully”, for my English assignment.
“Hopefully”, as defined by the AP Stylebook, is “as it is hoped”.
Until reading this article I had not noticed that “hopefully” was not used in popular print; but now that I think about it, I can see why. “Hopefully”’s structure comes from “hopeful”, or full of hope. But who is full of hope?
“Hopefully, the weather will be nice.” The weather is certainly not full of hope.
“Hopefully, his car will win the race.” His car will not win the race just because someone hoped that it would. So then exactly what does “hopefully” mean?
Normally, I wouldn’t care about something like this. However, we are talking about an industry that uses language as its main tool. Essentially, language is all that newspapers are, and as such, it follows that a rigid guideline be in place to prevent writers from becoming too lax in their writing. Personally, I believe that if a new word is invented, go ahead and alter the conventions for a few years until a norm is accepted. But for a word that has been around for ages and has a recognizable structure as a specific part of speech, leave it as such.
If one chooses writing as a PROFESSION, they should be able to be professional about it, stick to conventional word usage, and not complain. Leave slang-age to the bloggers.
I have been using the word HOPEFULLY ofr years. the fight over using the word is strange. It will settle itself when another controversy arises over another word
I believe that it depends on what type of an article someone is writing. “Hopefully” is subjective and in situations where someone is to report news or facts or something of that nature in a newspaper, the writer should refrain from its use because then they are swaying the reader to feel hopeful with them about a situation as opposed to presenting the reader with the facts and let them develop their own emotions and opinion on the matter.
If the writer is writing a personal column, then by all means give your opinion and feelings. We relational human beings love to connect with other people and we do that in ways such as hoping together and feeling and communicating with one another.
So I say – it’s not barbaric or lazy, but it is certainly subjective.
Hopefully you all have a blessed day!
This is how I’ve seen it used commonly; as both an adverb and a sentence adverb.
Adverb: meaning to carry out the verb in a hopeful fashion; i.e. ‘he worked hopefully’
Sentence Adverb: meaning to hope in or for something; i.e. ‘Will we win?’
Note that the opposite of hopefully as a sentence adverb is usually ‘hopefully not’, as in meaning it is hoped that something DOES NOT happen.
Sorry. Couldn’t resist!
You may be wondering, “What is the AP Stylebook? And why does it matter?”
… so potentially, their decision impacts [affects] every newspaper in the country.
… strict prescriptivists do not want written language to conform easily and quickly to the constant [continual] changes
… descriptivsts think style suggestions should [ought to] shift
… writers should [ought to] use the contraction.
… other words (like [such as] curiously, certainly, and frankly)
… using “hopefully” makes you [one] a lazy barbarian.
Use of the word “Hopefully” should be stamped out in nearly all cases. Several writers above make this observation.
Other writers above should strongly consider remedial classes in English grammar, starting with the second or third grade level.
For instance, “your” is an entirely incorrect substitute for the contraction “you’re,” that is, “you are.”
Bad grammar bothers me in the extreme. In case people here are wondering, the answer is no, I am not an English teacher. I’m a mathematician with an advanced degree in electrical engineering.
Clean up your bad writing, people, and the sooner, the better!
The writer mispelled “descriptivists” in the third paragraph. Ironic.
The use of the word, “myself” deserves an article explaining its proper use. Well educated media anchors slaughter this word, e.g., John and myself interviewed the President, or the article was written by myself! Arg!
Raise your hand if usage of bad grammar is a pet peeve of yours.
As a grammar tutor, son of a writer, and grandson of an English teacher, I have long railed against the use of “hopefully” as a sentence adverb. Language should be precise, and the lamentable erosion of our spoken language should not be an excuse to degrade our written language as well.
This is a particularly pernicious problem with English which, as an amalgam of so many other languages, is already difficult to master, especially for those learning it as a second language. If word construction ceases to be a guide in learning definitions, an increase in confusion is inevitable.
What childish writing this is. How does dictionary.com attract such a following? Try OED Word of the Day for some scholarship.
Ain’t it great? We can know what that means, even if it ain’t a word.
i love using hopefully sean smith is a loser and everyone shud no that
I can’t say I have a whiff of concern for what the “style guides” say; they’re perhaps a bit useful when they guess right or side with logical interpretation, but woefully out of touch with the historical state of our language. Prescriptivists and descriptivists are both right and wrong together; neither use the language correctly anyway. The former don’t spend time with the old books, and have little idea of what they’re talking about. The latter are in some angry, inexplicable rush to make sure kids can’t understand books written 100 years ago, or even 50. Our so-called “English” is certainly not the English of the Angles. And written and spoken language need not — and perhaps cannot — be identical.
A very easy solution exists with ‘hopefully’. Separate it out with one or more commas, as with other appositives and transitional words (shortened from longer adverbial phrases), and preferentially locate the adverb form after the subject. Such usage would render only slight ambiguity, at the author’s demand.
Hopefully (speaking), kids will open a book or two in their lives.
Hopefully (do) I enjoy some of the more thoughtful comments here.
People, hopefully, will become familiar with the old language.
People hopefully and trustingly rely far too much on style guides.
My mom’s been bugging me about this. She sides with the Washington Post.
Well aparrently it is just now okay to use a word that can possible change a persons intire outlook on a situation I mean think about it when you see or hear the words “we are not certain whether or not” most people automatically think negatively about the situation using the word hopefully can put quite a mood change to an article or speech
I was aware of guidelines was not aware of this particular rule until now. I see many people offering a general opinion that this is silliness. I feel I should make the following point. If you are a novelist, it is your prerogative to invoke personal notions with your writing if it pleases you. However, this guideline for not using the word “hopefully” was directed towards journalists who are to remain neutral at all times. By placing this word at the beginning of a sentence, it infers the author’s opinion. The author’s opinion might be the same as most or even all parties involved but it is not the journalist’s job to interject into the conversation.
Some will say that that so many journalists are not objective anyway. This is true but we do not make stealing legal because some people do it anyway. And others will say that this particular point is a minor point and not worth the discussion. Perhaps, but I personally think rolling through a stop sign is acceptable but that rule has not been changed to suit me yet. I just hope the rules for professional writing do not follow the masses on all conversational conventions. I could not read it if every sentence began with “Actually…”.
Sometimes the things people battle over seem rather silly. In this case it’s not even land, it’s the use of words.
Someone please tell me why the commas should be tucked inside the quotation marks in English? It is not the same in all languages. In my native language, which is Finnish, quotation marks only contain what is quoted, and all punctuation marks belonging to the sentence but not into the quotation will of course be outside the quotation marks. That makes a lot more sense to me.
Sorry about the question mark at the end of my first sentence. It shouldn’t be there.
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Nothing that has, is, or ever will be is as grotesque as the “word” ginormous.
this is werid
@john how old r u ?
I first read a feature article regarding the misuse of this word and others in The Los Angeles Times in 1969. Unfortunately, illiteracy among journalists is the norm now, and I see newspaper articles regarding word usage less and less frequently. It seems that almost no one knows any better anymore. And these television dimwits, such as Matt Lauer et al, lead the way.
By the way, has anyone heard the word “hopefully” used correctly in the last 30 years on television? I do not believe I have…Alas!
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“Apparently, using “hopefully” makes you a lazy barbarian. We’d hope not.”
I see what you did there.
[...] (don’t you love the mystery?). And yes, the AP now approves this usage of the word “hopefully.” While I have always inwardly cringed, I like to reassure myself with the knowledge that [...]
I don’t see a date on this article so beginning it, “Last week…” isn’t very helpful.
When a word becomes commonplace in spoken language despite cries and knashing of teeth from the language establishment, it is because it serves a purpose. “Hopefully” is a great example of this. It is simpler and less formal than “it is to be hoped that… ” and just fills a niche in people’s vocabularies. Another example, which made me cringe for years, is using “presently” to mean “at the moment” rather than its actual meaning, which is “in a little while, soon”. I still don’t use it that way (or at all, now) but I have learned to tolerate it in others. I have to admit it is more logical, hence the change. Language constantly evolves, and I don’t want to be seen as a stubborn old fool.