“To Grammar’s House” is a regular column by the Boston Globe copy desk on the style and language used in the newspaper.
Our colleagues at the Associated Press Stylebook have a new child, introduced last month by the bashful parents. Most of us will be familiar with this newly acknowledged member of their family, having used it to clear our throats while we tried to compose our thoughts, hopefully, to impress our audience with what else we might say.
On Twitter, @APStylebook announced, “Hopefully, you will appreciate this style update, announced at [the annual meeting of the American Copy Editors Society recently in New Orleans]. We now support the modern usage of hopefully: it’s hoped, we hope.”
Hopefully is a word that has crept into our speech, and it is as irritating as the “you know” I added to every other sentence at one point in my teenage years. Neither means very much, both are a play for time. At least they sound better than oohs, ahs, and grunts, which are other ways we cover when trying to figure out what we want to say. In the newspaper, we might see hopefully in direct quotations, for it is one of the things that real people say, but it is usually a waste of time to include it in an article, because it means so little.
Our stylebook says of quotations:
“The aim of a quotation is to advance a story by adding color or by shedding light on the people and subject matter involved. Quotations must truthfully represent the meaning of the speaker. Do not quote a mundane, disorganized, repetitive, or ungrammatical statement that can be better conveyed by paraphrase; conversely, avoid paraphrasing a trenchant statement that is better quoted. The best quotations are vivid and enlightening.”
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