sentence adverb

sentence adverb
1. Certain adverbs, such as actually, basically, clearly, frankly, interestingly, normally, regrettably, strictly, and usually, have the special role of qualifying entire statements rather than individual words. Some of these are adverbs of time and frequency and retain a closer connection with the verb despite being separated from it:

• It is normally very difficult to get a new sport accepted for the Olympics —New Yorker, 1984.

The others have a more independent role in referring not to the content of the statement but to an external consideration, such as the opinion of the speaker, even though they may not be explicitly expressed as such:

• I'm sure you don't know every detail of her past either and, quite frankly, it's none of your business —Daily Star, 2007

(= to be frank, as I frankly believe)

• Clearly therefore, we suggest, this points to a ‘mole’ within British Telecom Prestel headquarters —Times, 1984

(= as is clear).
This phenomenon is commonly associated with 20c usage, but examples are recorded from an earlier date.
2. The examples given so far are mostly unexceptionable, but controversy arises with thankfully, regretfully, and, above all, hopefully:

• Hopefully, our experience will be of use to them —Independent, 1989.

This may be because, unlike the others, there is no phrasal basis corresponding to it is clear that (for clearly) or to be frank (for frankly), since ‘it is to be hoped that’ is passive whereas hopeful is ‘active’ (i.e. the person so described does the hoping). See hopefully.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • sentence adverb — sentence .adverb n an adverb that relates to the whole sentence that contains it …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • sentence adverb — sentence ,adverb noun count an adverb that affects the meaning of a whole sentence …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • sentence adverb — noun : an adverb that qualifies a sentence as a whole (as surely in “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”) * * * noun, pl ⋯ verbs [count] grammar : an adverb that limits or describes the meaning of an entire… …   Useful english dictionary

  • sentence adverb — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms sentence adverb : singular sentence adverb plural sentence adverbs linguistics an adverb that affects the meaning of a whole sentence, for example fortunately in the sentence Fortunately, no one was injured. or …   English dictionary

  • sentence adverb — sentence adverbs N COUNT Adverbs such as fortunately and perhaps which apply to the whole clause, rather than to part of it, are sometimes called sentence adverbs …   English dictionary

  • sentence adverb — noun Grammar an adverb that expresses an attitude to the content of the sentence in which it occurs or places the sentence in a particular context. Usage Some traditionalists hold that the use of sentence adverbs (as in sadly, he is rather… …   English new terms dictionary

  • sentence adverb — Gram. an adverb modifying or commenting upon the content of a sentence as a whole or upon the conditions under which it is uttered, as frankly in Frankly, he can t be trusted. [1890 95] * * * …   Universalium

  • sentence adverb — noun An adverb that modifies an entire clause or sentence rather than a single word or phrase …   Wiktionary

  • sentence adverb — noun (C) an adverb that expresses an opinion about the whole sentence that contains it …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • sentence adverb — sen′tence ad verb n. oce gram. an adverb modifying or commenting upon the content of a sentence as a whole or upon the conditions under which it is uttered, as frankly in Frankly, he can t be trusted[/ex] • Etymology: 1890–95 …   From formal English to slang

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