The adverb hopefully, meaning "it is hoped," was just upgraded to acceptable at The Associated Press Stylebook (AP), according to Monica Hesse writing in yesterday's Washington Post online. I recommend her article, "AP’s Approval of ‘Hopefully’ Symbolizes Larger Debate Over Language," and its colorful background on the significance of AP's shift.
The change is an update of the 2011 AP Stylebook, which included this entry for hopefully:
hopefully It means in a hopeful manner. Do not use it to mean it is hoped, let us hope or we hope.
Right: It is hoped that we will complete our work in June.
Right: We hope that we will complete our work in June.
Wrong as a way to express the thought in the previous two sentences: Hopefully, we will complete our work in June.
Now the example called wrong in 2011 is right. According to the AP Stylebook, it is now acceptable to write "Hopefully, we will complete our work in June."
This may not seem like a big deal, but to many linguistic sticklers it is the end of the world of correctness.
Although I don't see its use as the world's end, I am not going to use hopefully for "it is hoped." Why? Because too many old-school grammarians will think I don't know better. As Bryan Garner says of hopefully in Garner's Modern American Usage, "If you use it in the newish way [as "it is hoped"], a few readers will tacitly tut-tut you."
The "old way" to use hopefully is as a traditional adverb, as in "She waited hopefully for her brother to return." The "new way" just sanctioned by AP might be "Hopefully, her brother will return."
AP is not the first reference manual to approve hopefully for "it is hoped." These guides, along with Garner's Modern American Usage, have already called it acceptable:
The Gregg Reference Manual
The Chicago Manual of Style: "The newer meaning . . . seems here to stay. But many careful writers deplore the new meaning."
Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: "The second sense of hopefully is entirely standard."
Canadian Oxford Dictionary: "There are no grounds for condemning this use."
Hopefully,It is hoped that this new AP ruling makes sense to you. Please share your reaction.
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