Do You Put a Comma After “Hopefully”?

Using “hopefully” in sentences often leads to confusion about comma placement. This guide aims to clear up when you should and shouldn’t use a comma after “hopefully,” providing rules and examples for various scenarios.

When to Use a Comma After “Hopefully”

Rule 1: Beginning Sentences

Beginning Sentences

When “hopefully” starts a sentence, it’s often followed by a comma. This is because “hopefully” is being used as a sentence adverb, meaning it comments on the entire sentence.

Correct Examples:

  • “Hopefully, we will get to see the comet tonight.”
  • “Hopefully, the weather stays clear for our picnic.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “Hopefully we will get to see the comet tonight.”
  • “Hopefully the weather stays clear for our picnic.”

Rule 2: In the Middle of Sentences

“Hopefully” doesn’t always need a comma when used in the middle of a sentence. It depends on whether it’s essential to the meaning of the sentence or if it’s interrupting the flow as an aside.

Correct Examples (No Interruption):

  • “She looked hopefully at the sky for a sign of the comet.”
  • “They waited hopefully for the weather to clear.”

Incorrect Examples (No Interruption):

  • “She looked, hopefully, at the sky for a sign of the comet.”
  • “They waited, hopefully, for the weather to clear.”

Correct Examples (With Interruption):

  • “The picnic, hopefully, will not be ruined by rain.”
  • “The team, hopefully, will win the championship this year.”

Incorrect Examples (With Interruption):

  • “The picnic hopefully will not be ruined by rain.”
  • “The team hopefully will win the championship this year.”

Rule 3: Before Independent Clauses

When “hopefully” is used before an independent clause, a comma is not typically necessary unless “hopefully” starts the sentence.

Correct Examples:

  • “We will, hopefully, receive the package by noon.”
  • “Hopefully, the package arrives on time.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “We will hopefully, receive the package by noon.”
  • “Hopefully the package, arrives on time.”

Rule 4: Indicating a Degree or Manner

When “hopefully” is used to describe the manner in which something is done and is integral to the meaning of the verb, no comma is needed.

Correct Examples:

  • “She gazed hopefully into the distance.”
  • “They listened hopefully for any sign of rescue.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “She gazed, hopefully, into the distance.”
  • “They listened, hopefully, for any sign of rescue.”

Rule 5: At the End of Sentences

“Hopefully” can be used at the end of sentences to express a wish or hope. In such cases, it is often preceded by a comma to indicate a pause or a shift from the statement to the expression of hope.

Correct Examples:

  • “We will see the comet, hopefully.”
  • “The weather will clear up, hopefully.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “We will see the comet hopefully.”
  • “The weather will clear up hopefully.”

Rule 6: With Conjunctive Adverbs

When “hopefully” functions similarly to conjunctive adverbs (however, therefore, moreover), connecting two independent clauses, it should be preceded by a semicolon and followed by a comma if it’s at the beginning of the second clause.

Correct Examples:

  • “We planned to watch the comet; hopefully, the sky remains clear.”
  • “The game is tomorrow; hopefully, the team is prepared.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “We planned to watch the comet, hopefully the sky remains clear.”
  • “The game is tomorrow, hopefully the team is prepared.”

Rule 7: In Nonessential Clauses

When “hopefully” introduces a nonessential clause—a part of the sentence that can be removed without changing its essential meaning—it’s often set off by commas.

Correct Examples:

  • “The concert, hopefully, will not be canceled.”
  • “Our vacation plans, hopefully, will not change.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “The concert hopefully will not be canceled.”
  • “Our vacation plans hopefully will not change.”

Rule 8: Before Adjective Phrases

If “hopefully” is used before an adjective phrase, it generally does not require a comma unless it’s part of a nonessential clause or beginning a sentence.

Correct Examples:

  • “They were hopefully optimistic about the new venture.”
  • “Hopefully, the results will be positive.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “They were hopefully, optimistic about the new venture.”
  • “Hopefully the results, will be positive.”

Rule 9: In Lists

When “hopefully” is part of a list of adverbs or phrases in a sentence, commas are used according to standard list punctuation rules.

Correct Examples:

  • “Eagerly, hopefully, and anxiously, they awaited news.”
  • “They awaited news, eagerly, hopefully, and anxiously.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “Eagerly hopefully and anxiously, they awaited news.”
  • “They awaited news eagerly hopefully and anxiously.”

Rule 10: With Appositives

When “hopefully” is used in apposition—when a word or phrase renames or clarifies another word or phrase—it’s often enclosed in commas.

Correct Examples:

  • “The message, hopefully clear, was sent across the network.”
  • “Their response, hopefully positive, would arrive soon.”

Incorrect Examples:

  • “The message hopefully clear, was sent across the network.”
  • “Their response hopefully positive, would arrive soon.”

Understanding when and how to use commas with “hopefully” can enhance the clarity and effectiveness of your writing. Remember, the main goal is to communicate your thoughts clearly and precisely, so consider how the use of “hopefully” and commas affects the readability of your sentences.