The AP Styebook has announced that it will henceforth accept the word “hopefully” as a sentence adverb:
an adverb that affects the meaning of a whole sentence, for example “fortunately” in the sentence “Fortunately, no one was injured.” or “economically” in the sentence “This could be disastrous for the country economically.”
And so on.
Between then and now, adverbs have acquired so many roles – as modifiers of verbs, of adjectives, of “determiners,” of other adverbs, of phrases, of sentences – that I sometimes think of the adverb as any modifier that is not an adjective.
I don’t know whether “any modifier that is not an adjective” is a reasonable definition, but when I find out, I will let you know.
Hopefully [SENTENCE ADVERB], that won’t be too long from now.