An e-mail from my Dad, in reference to me using “thankfully” inappropriately in my “Raindrops on Roses” posting….(in all honesty, I knew I was most likely using it incorrectly…I was just being lazy):
Thankfully is an adverb, a word which takes the action of a verb. The statement “And enough to soak the ground, thankfully” seems to indicate that the rain was thankful that it managed to fall in an amount sufficient enough to soak the ground. The use of a comma between “ground” and “thankfully” adds to that misperception—it causes the reader to pause, and thus adds emphasis to the notion that the rain was pleased with its performance.
One cannot say, with a high degree of certainty, that the rain was not, in fact, thankful that its efforts were fruitful, but given the vagaries of rainfall (at least in my part of the country), it’s doubtful that the rain felt such emotion—in fact, it’s somewhat doubtful that rain is capable of feeling any emotion, regardless of its output.
The misuse of adverbs is almost universal—learned people from all disciplines, some with impressive titles preceding their names (doctor, governor, senator, president, etc.) and long strings of letters after their names identifying degrees and specialties—MD, BA, RN, BS, MBA, SOB, etc.) frequently (no, not frequently—consistently) misuse adverbs.
In my experience the misuse of “hopefully” leads the pack, with “thankfully” running a close second.
If all the above seems to be a severe case of nit-picking, that’s because it is. I’m guilty. I admit it. I am a zealot—a registered, dyed-in-the-wool, confirmed card-carrying NIT-PICKER, and as the slogan of one of the nation’s hamburger chains says, “I’m loving it!”!
(Note the double exclamation point in the last sentence—that’s allowable when the exclamation points are separated by a quotation mark).