Hopefully, I can get a ruling.

There are two kinds of people. Those who don't take issue with this post's title, and those now compelled to send me hate mail.

Five years ago, I had no idea the second camp existed. Setting out on a quest for grammar excellence, I had picked up a book called Woe Is I. Subtitled "The Grammarphobe's Guide To Better English In Plain English," it's the work of Patricia T. O'Connor, who honed her skills as editor of The New York Times Book Review. This would be my grammar bible, O'Connor's word gospel.

One lesson stood out "“ I'd been misusing hopefully all these years. I was bewildered. Like the time I found out jean shorts weren't cool. In both cases, I had one question. When did this happen? In both cases, that question painted me even more clueless.

When I stumbled across a second edition last week, I noticed a startling reversal. Take a look.

Woe Is I, 1998 (paperback)
hopefully. By now it's probably hopeless to resist the misuse of hopefully. Strictly speaking, there's only one way to use it correctly "“ as an adverb meaning "in a hopeful manner." In the time it takes you to read this sentence, hopefully will be misused at least once by every man, woman and child in the United States. Whether we like it or not "“ and I don't "“ hopefully seems to be joining that class of introductory words that we use not to describe a verb, which is what adverbs usually do, but to describe our own attitude toward the statement that follows. Join the crowd and abuse hopefully if you want. I can't stop you. But maybe if enough of us preserve the original meaning it can be saved. One can only hope.

Woe Is I, 2004 (paperback)
hopefully. These days, it's hopeless to resist the evolution of hopefully. Purists used to insist (and some still do) that there's only one way to use it correctly "“ as an adverb meaning "in a hopeful manner." If the holdouts had their way, nobody would use hopefully to replace a phrase like "it is hoped" or "let us hope." But here in the real world, language changes, and upright citizens have been using hopefully in that looser way for ages. It's time to admit that hopefully has joined that class of introductory words (like fortunately, honestly, and others) that we use not to describe our attitude toward the statement that follows. The technical term for them in sentence adverbs. Be aware that some sticklers still take a narrow view of hopefully. Will they ever join the crowd? One can only hope.

O'Connor reminds me of an overwhelmed parent, giving up on curfew enforcement.

In my first month as a mental_floss blogger, I've been quite impressed by the grammatical prowess of our readers. So let me tap into your collective expertise. If you used hopefully the way I did in the title, would you be able to sleep?

Let us hope you can help.

Win a Trip to Any National Park By Instagramming Your Travels

If you're planning out your summer vacation, make sure to add a few national parks to your itinerary. Every time you share your travels on Instagram, you can increase your chances of winning a VIP trip for two to the national park of your choice.

The National Park Foundation is hosting its "Pic Your Park" sweepstakes now through September 28. To participate, post your selfies from visits to National Park System (NPS) properties on Instagram using the hashtag #PicYourParkContest and a geotag of the location. Making the trek to multiple parks increases your points, with less-visited parks in the system having the highest value. During certain months, the point values of some sites are doubled. You can find a list of participating properties and a schedule of boost periods here.

Following the contest run, the National Park Foundation will decide a winner based on most points earned. The grand prize is a three-day, two-night trip for the winner and a guest to any NPS property within the contiguous U.S. Round-trip airfare and hotel lodging are included. The reward also comes with a 30-day lease of a car from Subaru, the contest's sponsor.

The contest is already underway, with a leader board on the website keeping track of the competition. If you're looking to catch up, this national parks road trip route isn't a bad place to start.

15 Dad Facts for Father's Day

Gather 'round the grill and toast Dad for Father's Day—the national holiday so awesome that Americans have celebrated it for more than a century. Here are 15 Dad facts you can wow him with today.

1. Halsey Taylor invented the drinking fountain in 1912 as a tribute to his father, who succumbed to typhoid fever after drinking from a contaminated public water supply in 1896.

2. George Washington, the celebrated father of our country, had no children of his own. A 2004 study suggested that a type of tuberculosis that Washington contracted in childhood may have rendered him sterile. He did adopt the two children from Martha Custis's first marriage.

3. In Thailand, the king's birthday also serves as National Father's Day. The celebration includes fireworks, speeches, and acts of charity and honor—the most distinct being the donation of blood and the liberation of captive animals.

4. In 1950, after a Washington Post music critic gave Harry Truman's daughter Margaret's concert a negative review, the president came out swinging: "Some day I hope to meet you," he wrote. "When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!"

5. A.A. Milne created Winnie the Pooh for his son, Christopher Robin. Pooh was based on Robin's teddy bear, Edward, a gift Christopher had received for his first birthday, and on their father/son visits to the London Zoo, where the bear named Winnie was Christopher's favorite. Pooh comes from the name of Christopher's pet swan.

6. Kurt Vonnegut was (for a short time) Geraldo Rivera's father-in-law. Rivera's marriage to Edith Vonnegut ended in 1974 because of his womanizing. Her ever-protective father was quoted as saying, "If I see Gerry again, I'll spit in his face." He also included an unflattering character named Jerry Rivers (a chauffeur) in a few of his books.

7. Andre Agassi's father represented Iran in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics as a boxer.

8. Charlemagne, the 8th-century king of the Franks, united much of Western Europe through military campaigns and has been called the "king and father of Europe" [PDF]. Charlemagne was also a devoted dad to about 18 children, and today, most Europeans may be able to claim Charlemagne as their ancestor.

9. The voice of Papa Smurf, Don Messick, also provided the voice of Scooby-Doo, Ranger Smith on Yogi Bear, and Astro and RUDI on The Jetsons.

10. In 2001, Yuri Usachev, cosmonaut and commander of the International Space Station, received a talking picture frame from his 12-year-old daughter while in orbit. The gift was made possible by RadioShack, which filmed the presentation of the gift for a TV commercial.

11. The only father-daughter collaboration to hit the top spot on the Billboard pop music chart was the 1967 hit single "Something Stupid" by Frank & Nancy Sinatra.

12. In the underwater world of the seahorse, it's the male that gets to carry the eggs and birth the babies.

13. If show creator/producer Sherwood Schwartz had gotten his way, Gene Hackman would have portrayed the role of father Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch.

14. The Stevie Wonder song "Isn't She Lovely" is about his newborn daughter, Aisha. If you listen closely, you can hear Aisha crying during the song.

15. Dick Hoyt has pushed and pulled his son Rick, who has cerebral palsy, through hundreds of marathons and triathlons. Rick cannot speak, but using a custom-designed computer he has been able to communicate. They ran their first five-mile race together when Rick was in high school. When they were done, Rick sent his father this message: "Dad, when we were running, it felt like I wasn't disabled anymore!"


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