Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: thankfully

thankfully. “Thankfully” = in a manner expressing thanks; gratefully {after being saved so unexpectedly, they thankfully said goodbye}. E.g.: “Obligations are thankfully acknowledged to a long line of etymologists, lexicographers, and philologists, whom it would be mere pedantry to call by name.” James Bradstreet Greenough & George Lyman Kittredge, Words and Their Ways in English Speech v (1901). In the mid-1960s, the word came into use in the sense “thank goodness”; “I am (or we are) thankful that” — that is, as a sentence adverb analogous to “hopefully.” Although this use of “thankfully” is now fairly common, it has become a skunked term. “Gratefully” will often communicate the idea “in a thankful manner” more clearly. Or for sentence-adverb revisions, try “thank goodness” or “fortunately” — e.g.: o “Ms. Sanday, in other words, wants to rewrite the rules of sex, as though sex — and courtship — were responsible for an egregious crime. Thankfully, [read ‘Thank goodness’] this is not the case.” Karen Lehrman, “When ‘No’ Means ‘No,'” N.Y. Times, 9 June 1996, § 7, at 24. o “Thankfully [read ‘Luckily’], Spin publicist Jason Roth is still allowed to make more or less direct statements.” James Ledbetter, “Press Clips,” Village Voice, 1 Apr. 1997, at 32. o “At two, she spoke in phrases incomprehensible to anyone but me. . . . Thankfully [read ‘Fortunately’], by two and a half, she had graduated to complex sentences.” Mary Newton Bruder, The Grammar Lady 97 (2000). Language-Change Index — “thankfully” as a sentence adverb meaning “thank goodness”: Stage 3. For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “What we call insincerity is the expression of thoughts that do not go to the bottom of our own minds.” Oliver Allston (as quoted in Van Wyck Brooks, Opinions of Oliver Allston 294 (1941)).
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