Sentence Adverbs

Not all adverbs end in -ly, but many do.

Like all adverbs, -ly adverbs are used to add meaning to verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. For example:

Jones deals honestly with all his customers. (adverb modifying the verb deals)

The lecture on adiabatic and isochoric kinetics was mercifully brief. (adverb modifying the adjective brief)

The concert is over. You are unfortunately late. (adverb modifying the adverb late)

Some -ly adverbs can also be used to modify an entire sentence. For example:

Honestly, most television comedies are unbearably vulgar. (adverb modifying entire sentence)

Mercifully, the blast was prevented by the swift arrival of the fire brigade. (adverb modifying entire sentence)

Fortunately, the ship stayed afloat long enough for all the passengers to be rescued. (adverb modifying entire sentence)

In each of these examples, the adverb at the beginning of the sentence is set off by a comma and conveys the attitude of the speaker toward the entire thought being expressed.

Generally speaking (as opposed to more precise classifications in linguistics) adverbs used in this way are called “sentence adverbs.” Here is a list of other adverbs that may be used as sentence adverbs:


Note: Some last-ditch language sticklers reject the right of hopefully to be included in this list. According to these cranky holdouts, the only meaning for hopefully that “careful writers” should recognize is “with hope,” as in “My dog Cash stared hopefully at the treat jar.” They reject the notion that hopefully can also be used to introduce a sentence with the sense of “I hope” or “it is to be hoped,” as in this sentence: “Hopefully, the new millage will pass, and we can expand the library.”

English speakers have been using hopefully as a sentence adverb for eighty years at least—possibly longer. “Careful writers” may continue to avoid its use as they wish, but ridiculing its use by others is bad form.

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Source: Daily Tips

Passionate and Impassioned

A reader wonders about the words passionate and impassioned:
Do they mean the same thing? If not, when should you use one and not the other?
The word passion derives from a Latin verb that means “to suffer” or “to undergo.” One use of the noun is to name the sufferings of Jesus. For example, a “passion play” is a performance that reenacts the arrest and death of Jesus. The title of Dreyer’s play about the trial of Joan of Arc is called The Passion of Joan of Arc in reference to her sufferings, which the filmmaker felt paralleled the sufferings of Christ.
Another sense of passion is “strong emotion.” It can refer to sexual passion or to a strong emotion like anger or indignation.
A passionate person is readily swayed by emotions. In such expressions as “a passionate kiss” and “a passionate embrace,” the connotation is usually sexual.
Someone swayed by strong feelings about some nonsexual purpose might be described as “a passionate reformer,” or “a passionate preacher.” Sports enthusiasts are said to be “passionate about football.”
Although the words are mostly synonymous, impassioned perhaps has the connotation of strong feeling rooted in conviction.
Here are some recent examples of both adjectives as used on the Web:
The actor then applied to the Grand Duke, and the latter, a passionate lover of dogs, signified his desire that the request be granted.
Part II explores the ways that prosecutorial passion might affect plea.
Because marriage is for the rest of my life, I think it will be more enjoyable if I married a person who is like a friend, as opposed to marrying for passionate love.
WVU Women’s Basketball Carey wants passionate effort against Oklahoma
Freida Pinto Gave An Impassioned Feminist Speech Every Woman And Man Needs To Hear
Impassioned crowds protest Ferguson decision in Boston
Synonyms for passionate when the context is sexual:
Synonyms for passionate in other contexts:
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Source: Vocabulary

Beautyism and Friends

It’s not in my two main dictionaries yet, but beautyism has found a place in the catalogue of English words ending in -ism:
Beautyism in the Workplace: Disguised Discrimination
Jawahar and Mattsson (2005) investigated sexism and beautyism effects in employment processes using experimental research.
The suffix -ism has been a prolific source of English nouns since the Middle Ages, but this newest use, to form words that denote perceived superiority or discrimination, is fairly recent and has produced the following nouns:
ageism: Prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age; age discrimination, especially against the elderly.
racism: prejudice and antagonism towards people of other races, especially those felt to be a threat to one’s cultural or racial integrity or economic well-being.
sexism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.
beautyism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination on the basis of physical attractiveness or lack of it.
On the Ngram chart, the word racism begins a dramatic rise in the 1930s. Sexism and ageism begin their rise at the end of the 1960s. Beautyism barely shows in comparison with the others, but is on the graph beginning in 1971. The OED added these additional definitions for the use of the suffix -ism in 2004:
a. Forming nouns with the sense ‘belief in the superiority of one [something] over another’; as racism, sexism, speciesism, etc.
b. Forming nouns with the sense ‘discrimination or prejudice against on the basis of [something]; as ageism, bodyism, heightism, faceism, lookism, sizeism, weightism, etc.
Some other uses of -ism
To form nouns that name the process or completed action of a verb in -ize:
To form nouns that name the action or conduct of a class of persons:
To form the name of a system of theory or practice, sometimes on the name of the subject or object, and sometimes on the name of its founder:
To form a noun denoting a peculiarity or characteristic, especially of language:
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Source: Vocabulary

Waxing and Waning

The most familiar use of the verbs wax and wane is in reference to the states of the moon.
To wax is to grow. To wane is to diminish.
The moon has four phases, also called quarters. During the first two quarters, the moon is said “to wax” as its light increases. During the third and fourth quarters, as its light decreases, the moon is said “to wane.”
The verbs wax and wane are often used to describe the growing and lessening of interest in a subject:
My interest in Shakespeare has always waxed and waned. 
Sadly, as my interest waxed, the interest of my sponsor appeared to wane.
My interest in cars began to wane in direct relationship to the run-up in prices.
In writing and speech, the verb wax may be followed by an adjective to describe the manner in which something is being said.
“To wax poetic” is to speak with enthusiasm and hyperbole on a favorite subject:
A grizzled New Orleans bartender waxing poetic on his favorite drink, the Mint Julip, as he makes his last one.
Apple brilliantly waxes poetic in new iPad Air ad
Prabal Gurung Waxed Poetic About His Militant Women
Similar in meaning is the expression “to wax lyrical”:
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger talks up Jackson Martinez transfer after waxing lyrical about the Porto forward
Like Spengler, they waxed lyrical about war and violence “as the superior form of human existence.” 
Feelings of angry disdain are expressed by the phrase “to wax indignant”:
General Grant waxed indignant at his father’s crass attempt to profit from his son’s military [success].
Do not weep; do not wax indignant. Understand.—Baruch Spinoza
House Speaker Robert DeLeo waxed indignant Wednesday, forcefully denying claims by federal prosecutors that he let fellow legislators fill jobs in the Probation Department in exchange for their votes for the speakership.
Wax is also used in reference to less passionate states of feeling. For example, one can wax silent or sentimental:
Agnes waxed silent, pleased most with “the joy of her own thoughts.” 
Anárion waxed silent as a couple strolled beside them, waiting until they had walked a safe distance away before asking, “Have you ever heard of Eregion?”
Justice Thomas waxed sentimental about the good old days when “teachers managed classrooms with an iron hand.”
Cobos waxed sentimental about being a “country boy” and announced that this was why he and his wife moved to the Upper Valley themselves.
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Source: Vocabulary


The word crusade, used as both noun and verb, derives from a Latin verb meaning “to mark with a cross.” Middle English adopted the Old French form, croisee. When the OF spelling shifted to croisade, English speakers started spelling it that way too. Finally, in the 18th century, the spelling was Anglicized to crusade.
The Crusades were European-led wars that began in the 11th century with the intention of recapturing Jerusalem and other places in the Holy Land that had been conquered by Muslims in the 7th century, seven years after the death of Muhammad. The last attempt by a European king to recover the Christian sites was in 1272. The earliest OED citation for croisade in reference to these wars is dated 1557.
In the 18th century, crusade acquired a figurative meaning separate from the idea of a religious war. The noun came to mean “an aggressive movement against something perceived as a public evil.” The first documentation of this use occurs in 1786 in the writings of Thomas Jefferson: “Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance.”
For more than 200 years, crusade has served English speakers as a useful word to signify any kind of zealous support or opposition carried on in the name of the public good, for example:
Rep. Claude Pepper, who crusaded for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in the 1930s and was still championing the rights of the elderly a half-century later, died today at 88. 
For years, I’ve been on a crusade to help people boost their productivity by strengthening their writing so they can avoid the problems that come with sending unclear messages.
Klonsky is talking about the zealots, backed by multimillionaires, who are crusading against teachers’ unions as they claim to fight for the “reform” of public education.
Kentucky has now, by reason of this legislation, decided to become educated — and we have embarked on a crusade for that purpose.
Public School Crusaders Stake Out Rival Camps in Austin
Sunday Express launches crusade for better mental health
In the present political climate, the figurative use of crusade seems to be coming to an end as it joins others on the list of politically incorrect words:
Campus Crusade Changes Name to Cru
Ministry leaders worry that the word “crusade” has too many negative associations.
President Bush’s reference to a “crusade” against terrorism, which passed almost unnoticed by Americans, rang alarm bells in Europe.
Crusade is already coming in for criticism in some writing guides. This is from a UK university writing guide:
Example 1: Crusade against crime
Example 2: Campaign against crime
The word ‘crusade’ has connotations of a battle and is more aggressive in tone than the word ‘campaign’. ‘Campaign’ implies a more considered approach.
A style manual for Christian writers offers this advice:
The terms crusade and crusades are legitimate words in most contexts, although they should be avoided when used figuratively for Christian evangelism, modern military campaigns, or any effort to promote beliefs or values cross-culturally.
As Western government spokesmen and journalists take care to avoid the English word crusade, the Arabic borrowing jihad comes to mind. Like crusade in English, jihad has two meanings in its language of origin: “a holy war against unbelievers” and “a struggle or effort to do good.”
Here are some alternatives for politically correct writers who wish to phase out crusade in the figurative sense:
crusade (noun):
crusade (verb):
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Source: Vocabulary

Kin Words

The other night a local television anchorman, not noted for a large or literary vocabulary, surprised me with the following:
I feel such a kinsmanship with these survivors.
The anchor’s sentiment was kind, but kinsmanship is out of place in modern English.
Kinsmanship has an entry in the OED, and Emily Dickinson (1830—1886) used it. It shows up on the Ngram Viewer, but at a miniscule percentage compared to the far more common kinship. And Word’s spellchecker underlines it in red. It’s safe to say that kinsmanship has been replaced by kinship as the modern English word to describe a sense of fellow feeling.
A kinsman is “a blood relation,” but the word is not common in ordinary speech. It has a literary feel, as in the title Two Noble Kinsmen.
Both kinsman and kinship derive from the same Old English noun: cynn, a word with several meanings, one of which is “people related by blood.” From the same word we also get kind in the sense of class or group. Kinship is what one feels for people with whom we identify in some way, people who are of the same kind as we.
Here are some recent uses of kinship on the Web:
Quecreek survivor feels kinship with Chile miners. 
When two firefighters meet for the first time, they will feel a kinship with each other that transcends many other examples of mutual hobbies or interests.
Why do so many feel a connection — be it kinship or competition — with utter strangers just because they share a name?
Kids who’ve lost limbs find kinship at Camp No Limits on Lake Coeur d’Alene
The nouns kin and kinfolk refer to people related by blood ties:
I had, it seemed to me, hundreds of kin—aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins—near the small town of Oak Hill, Ohio.
By adolescence, “what to do with Eleanor” began to concern her Roosevelt kin.
Arab immigrants are bound to each other by strong family ties, and most want to live and work close to kin. 
While Arthur was serving in the New York militia during the conflict, his wife privately sympathized with the Confederacy, for which many of her Virginia kinfolk were fighting.
A qualitative approach was used to look into the experiences of male caregivers in offering to look after kinfolk with harsh psychological sickness.
The expression “next of kin” means “the closest living relative” and is often used in a legal context:
Historically, the next of kin have exercised proprietary rights in the control of dead bodies.
If the person is under 18, the parent, legal guardian, custodian or next of kin may have authority to apply on the person’s behalf.
Police are withholding the name of the deceased, pending notification of next of kin.
Finally, the idiom “kith and kin” means “friends and family.” The noun kith is related to the archaic adjective couth, “known” or “familiar.” Kith are “people one is acquainted with.” Here are examples of this idiom:
People helped each other and expected help in return. This included soldiers who assumed kith and kin would help the wives and children they left behind.
As the album title suggests, Selway’s songs are laced with references to his kith and kin.
I had neither kith nor kin in England, and was therefore as free as air. 
“Mind you,” said the old man, “even if I make good on this reef, I’ve neither kith nor kin to leave my money to. 
Note: Kin is frequently used alone, but kith seems always to be linked to kin
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Source: Vocabulary


The adjective sexy is a US coinage. According to OnlineEtymologyDictionary, it was first used in 1923 to describe smoldering silent screen star Rudolf Valentino.
Sexy to describe the sexual attractiveness of individuals and the sexual aspect or content of things is still probably the most common use of the word:
George Clooney Voted Sexiest Man Alive (Again)
Joan Crawford proves that you can be a powerful and sexy screen presence even after the age of forty.
Out of Sight has been voted the sexiest film of all time in a poll of industry insiders for an American magazine.
Can minors go to video stores and buy or rent sexy, violent movies without parental consent?
Nowadays, however, sexy is used to describe things that have nothing to do with sexual attraction or content:
The 101 sexiest cars of all time
Houses with the world’s sexiest garages
Homelessness is not a sexy cause unless it’s around Thanksgiving.
Not too many mayors find it very sexy to stand next to a fixed sewer or repaired bridge.
Childcare and children’s services, in the general public’s view, is not sexy; it is not at the top of people’s agenda.
Somewhere in the 1950s, sexy acquired the meaning “appealing, liable to excite interest, not boring.” The word is especially popular in the marketing industry:
How to Make Your Product Look Sexy on Facebook
Build a strong foundation for your marketing – now that’s sexy.
A retail experience needs to be dynamic, energetic, [and] sexy.
The most successful company is the one with the sexy logo, the sexy ads, the sexy products, and the sexy packaging.
Considering that the purpose of advertising is to cause consumers to lust after products, I suppose that the extended meaning is not much of a stretch.
Just as I felt confident to say that sexy in these contexts is simply the opposite of “not boring,” I came across a marketing site with the headline “Sexy Doesn’t Mean ‘Not Boring.’ ” According to this site, “Helpful is the new sexy.”
Marketers will continue to use sexy as shorthand for “attention-getting,” but for me, sexy seems more suitable as an adjective for beautiful people like Antonio Banderas or Cote de Pablo than for an insurance blog.
When it comes to describing the appeal of advertising and merchandise, writers may want to explore other words that convey the idea of appealing to human craving and covetousness.
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Source: Vocabulary


A rhetorical term for understatement is litotes:
litotes [LY-tuh-teez] (noun): understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary (as in “He’s not a bad ballplayer”)—Merriam-Webster.
Litotes can be used to express a variety of meanings.
When the translators of the KJV have Paul of Tarsus identify himself to the Roman officer as “a citizen of no mean city” (Acts 21:39), it is not to suggest that Paul was being modest. The words are “no mean city,” but the meaning is “a very important city.”
Here are other examples of the use of litotes to emphasize the importance of something by using a negative to express the contrary:
The history of American freedom is, in no small measure, the history of procedure. (i.e., “to a great extent”)
The disparity in government funding is not easy to remedy. (i.e, “extremely difficult”)
Litotes is also used to convey modesty, sarcasm, contempt, admiration, and veiled disapproval, as in the following examples:

You’ve managed to wreck the car and destroy the front porch all in one go. Good job!
He’s no Einstein.
Oprah gave every guest a car? Not too shabby.
This day-old lobster bisque is not entirely inedible.
Understatement has been a popular form of expression in English since the earliest times. For example, the Old English epic Beowulf begins with a gory description of Grendel’s slaughter of thirty of Hrothgar’s thanes. Grendel seizes the thanes and carries some of the bloody bodies back to his lair, “exulting.” Later, Grendel returns to wreak more slaughter. Says the poet, “[The monster] did not mourn for it.”
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Source: Vocabulary

Modal Verbs

A reader wonders when the term “modal verb” began to be applied to the following helping verbs: can, could, may, might, shall, should, will, would.

Writes the reader:

When I was young, no teacher or college professor whose subject was English ever mentioned “modal” with respect to verbs.  So, what’s with the “modal” stuff?  “Modal” seems to me to be nothing more than a current trend.  Can you tell whence and when “modal” sprang into being?

Like this reader, I went a very long time before hearing these helping verbs called “modals.” The first time I heard the term was in graduate school—and I’d taught high school English for several years before going there.

The Ngram Viewer shows the existence of “modal verbs” in printed books as early as 1848, but the term’s use begins to soar in the 1960s.

The earliest OED citations for “modal verbs” in the context of grammar are dated 1933, the year that saw the publication of an influential textbook based on structural linguistics: Language, by Leonard Bloomfield (1887-1949).

The importance of structural linguistics declined in the 1950s and 1960s as Chomsky’s theory of “generative grammar” displaced it, but the term “modal verbs” remained popular.

Modal verbs are also called modals, modal auxiliary verbs, and modal auxiliaries. These helping verbs are used to show if the speaker believes something is certain, probable or possible (or not). For example:

I may be able to travel to Tulsa with you.

Must you contradict everything I say?

Will my car be ready by this afternoon?

Modals are also used to talk about ability, to ask permission, to make a request or an offer, and so on. For example:

He could not lift the weight.
May I go with my friends to the mall?

As for being a “current trend,” the term may have been a trend in the 1960s, but after half a century, modal verbs are in the day-to-day grammar lexicon to stay.

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Source: Daily Tips

Gibe, Gybe, Jibe, and Jive

The verbs gibe, gybe, jibe and jive all begin with the sound [j] and are often confused.
gibe (verb): to taunt, to insult.
Example: “If he laughed instead of cried when someone gibed at him, often the teasing stopped.” 
gibe (noun): a sneering comment, a taunt.
Example: “The teasing, taunts, gibes and hurtful acts are a part of me still.”
gybe (verb): (sailing term) to shift suddenly and with force from one side to the other when a ship is steered off the wind until the sail fills on the opposite side. Alternative spelling: jibe.
Examples: “As Phil slipped overboard, the boom gybed.”
“A gust of wind caught their sail, the boom jibed, nearly knocking Mr. Snider overboard.”
jibe (verb): to make sense, to agree with, to fit in.
Example: “The latest research findings jibe with those recorded in 1934.”
The noun jive has these three meanings:
1. a type of fast, lively jazz
We’ve been wanting to play Jive since the band first started.
2. lively and uninhibited dancing.
He doesn’t quite bounce around like a rubber band during his jive, but does good enough to notch a 7-7-7.
3. talk or conversation, especially talk that is false, misleading, or worthless.
It’s time to cut the jive and tell the truth.

As a verb, jive can mean to play lively music or to dance to lively music. Example: They spaced each other about four feet apart and were jiving to the music.
The verb jive can also mean, “to mislead or deceive.”
Maybe the narcs were jiving him, maybe they were going to shoot him in the back.
I searched his eyes for some clue that he was jiving me. He wasn’t. 

The most common errors with these words are to spell gibe as jibe and to use jive in the sense of jibe.
Here are some examples of misuse from the Web:
Incorrect: Arizona Prison Privatization Proposal Doesn’t Jive with Market
Correct : Arizona Prison Privatization Proposal Doesn’t Jibe with Market
Incorrect: But my opinion about that doesn’t jive with everyone else’s opinion. 
Correct : But my opinion about that doesn’t jibe with everyone else’s opinion. 
Incorrect: If your child is hurling his own silly jibes at the teaser, then it’s a mutual thing.
Correct : If your child is hurling his own silly gibes at the teaser, then it’s a mutual thing.
Incorrect: Put-downs, slurs, jibes, and innuendo of all kinds are never purposeless or harmless.
Correct : Put-downs, slurs, gibes, and innuendo of all kinds are never purposeless or harmless.
The Oxford English Dictionary validates the nonstandard use of jive in the sense of jibe as “U.S.” usage, but Merriam-Webster Unabridged (notorious for its tendency to embrace all types of questionable usage) does not. The only definition M-W offers for jibe is “to be in accord.” Its only definitions for the verb jive are related to music, misleading talk, and teasing.
Two other much-cited American authorities are careful to distinguish between gibe and jibe:
The Chicago Manual of Style
A gibe is a biting insult or taunt; gibes are figuratively thrown at their target “The angry crowd hurled gibes as the suspect was led into the courthouse.” Jibe means to fit, usually with negation “The verdict didn’t jibe with the judge’s own view of the facts.”
The AP Stylebook
To gibe means to taunt or sneer: “They gibed him about his mistakes.”
Jibe means to shift direction: “They jibed their ship across the wind.”
or, colloquially, to agree: “Their stories didn’t jibe.”
The sailing term may be spelled either gybe or jibe. The latter is more common in US usage.
The verb that means “to agree” or “to fit” is spelled jibe.
The noun and verb that convey taunting are spelled gibe.
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Source: Vocabulary

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