Letters

The Estimable Disjunct

Sir: Frankly, I fail to understand Alan N. Cowan’s objections to what he oddly terms the “dislocated adverb” (Letters, April 2019). Grammarians—and most English speakers—would be similarly puzzled. In his three example sentences, the words hopefully, regretfully and thankfully do not modify the verb—the grammatical function that defines an adverb. Instead, he uses these words (correctly) as what grammarians call “disjuncts”. Essentially, these look like adverbs and, incidentally, can be used to modify a verb. Alternatively, used at or near the start, and occasionally the end, of a sentence, they may function as disjuncts. This large class of words includes…

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