What is the difference between ‘hopefully’ and ‘I hope’? Both of these expressions contain the word ‘hope’. This is a word that English speakers often add to statements showing they want or believe something particular will happen or be true. However, there is a difference between ‘hopefully’ and ‘I hope’, and it is one that still is being debated among those that dictate proper English usage.
‘Hopefully’ is an adverb, so it modifies a verb. It means in a hopeful manner. To be hopeful means to be full of hope, or showing and feeling a sense of hope. For example: The dog stared out of the window hopefully all day long. In another sense, ‘hopefully’ can mean that something is hoped for in a general way. For example: Hopefully, we will get there soon.
This usage of ‘hopefully’ has recently become more popular in the 20th century in modern English. Used in this way, it is a type of adverb called a disjunct. A disjunct adverb is separate, yet related, to the thought being expressed and allows the speaker or writer to comment on what they are saying or writing. Other examples include the following adverbs: interestingly, frankly, clearly and fortunately. It is in this unique usage that ‘hopefully’ means a feeling similar to ‘I hope’. Some language experts have criticized this usage, but according to authorities on the English language, such as Merriam Webster, it is a correct and standard usage of ‘hopefully’. However, it is good to keep in mind that some grammarians still find this usage uncomfortable, especially in formal or written English.