Today’s reading: Hopefully and only

I haven’t written about the Associated Press style guide editors’ decision to amend the guidance on “hopefully.”

Here is the new entry, just in case you missed it:

hopefully The traditional meaning is in a hopeful manner. Also acceptable is the modern usage: it’s hoped, we hope.

Correct: “You’re leaving soon?” she asked hopefully.
Correct: Hopefully, we’ll be home before dark.

I figured everyone else was handling the reaction stories and posts. Indeed, John McIntyre and Bill Walsh, among others, have responded. My favorite post comes from Geoffrey Pullum on Lingua Franca. It explains how “hopefully” came to be sent into sentence adverb exile.

Ben Yagoda’s Lingua Franca post on “only” and its placement provides great reading and guidance, too.

I am grateful that smart language commentators have given me ammunition to use when someone objects to reading “hopefully” to mean “it is to be hoped” and to finding a so-called misplaced “only.” But if I were still copy editing for a newspaper, I might continue to change “hopefully” and move “only” just to keep the picky folks off our backs and focused on more important matters such as accuracy and thoroughness.