Luckily, no one was hurt. (Adverbs for starting sentences)

by Kate Woodford

Yasuhito Shigaki/EyeEm/Getty

This week we’re looking at adverbs that we use to introduce sentences. We’ll begin with a set of adverbs that we use to show we are grateful for something that happened.

Starting with a very common adverb, fortunately often introduces a sentence in which the speaker talks about a good thing that happened, preventing something bad: It rained all afternoon. Fortunately, we were indoors most of the time.

Other adverbs that are used in this way are luckily, happily and thankfully:

A car had crashed into the shop. Luckily, no one was hurt.

None of us had coats. Happily, the weather stayed fine all afternoon.

Rosie was there during the terrible storm. Thankfully, she was safe.

If the good thing that happened was extremely lucky, (so lucky that you cannot believe it), you might start the sentence with miraculouslyHis car fell into a fast-flowing river. Miraculously, he somehow managed to escape.

Of course, there are adverbs that we use in the opposite situation. Unfortunately starts a sentence in which you talk about something bad or disappointing, often something that caused or causes problems for you or someone else: “Are you coming this evening?” “Unfortunately, I’m working.”

Sadly is also used in this way:

Sadly, this didn’t solve the problem.

Sadly, he’s not the public speaker his father was.

(Sadly, as you might expect, also starts sentences in which the speaker relates a sad fact: Sadly, she didn’t live long enough to see her first grandchild.)

Not all adverbs introduce things that are good or bad. The adverb interestingly, as you might imagine, comes before a piece of information that the speaker thinks people will want to know, often because it is surprising: She’s a very respected scientist. Interestingly, she wasn’t very clever at school.

Strangely is used in a similar way, but is more emphatic, introducing something that is the opposite of what you would expect: She was really rude to him. Strangely, he didn’t seem to mind.

Bizarrely at the start of a sentence is even stronger: Bizarrely, this world-famous actor spent her last years in a little village in the English countryside.

Other very common adverbs (basically and essentially) introduce the most important aspect or fact, without any details:

Basically, the aim of the project is to raise awareness of the issue.

Essentially, we are trying to stop this water from being wasted.

Sadly, that’s all for this week. Happily, we’ll be back next week with a different subject!

37 thoughts on “Luckily, no one was hurt. (Adverbs for starting sentences)

  1. Oleg Markin

    Dear Kate, even thought I haven’t read this post yet — just its title and the very beginning — I’d like to thank you: I could only dream someone does a review of those introductory words!

  2. Gilvan Valadão

    Awesome! I had difficulty apply adverbs in the introduction of my phases. Now I’ve learned how to do it.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi! Thanks for getting in touch. That’s an interesting question. I don’t think the word in itself is rude. It’s quite commonly used to introduce the main point and, assuming the point being made isn’t rude, I think it’s fine.

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi! Another good question! It’s certainly possible to use ‘weirdly’ in this way, (e.g. Weirdly, we even had the same middle name.) but far less common than ‘strangely’. I hope that helps!

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hi there! A ‘bent’ is a natural skill, so ‘to have a literary bent’ means ‘to be naturally good at literature’. I hope that helps!

    1. Kate Woodford

      Hello! I’m not sure if I’ve heard the phrase ‘pearl in the oyster’ but my guess is that it means ‘a very good and valuable thing’. (There is a sense of ‘pearl’ on its own that means this.) I hope that helps!

  3. Tatiana Balandina

    Thank you Kate! Your articles are always very informative. I’d like to know whether we can use such introductory adverbs when we write an essay, for example.

  4. Pingback: Luckily, no one was hurt. (Adverbs for starting sentences) – englishmoreformal

  5. Louis Shin

    Thanks for your useful information. I’m learning English as my second language. You post is going to be helpful for me to keep doing it.

  6. It is funny how people need to pre-define the feeling behind a situation, when it’s really up for interpretation.

    That said, I do use these adverbs to express my emotion, in times where there is emotion but it may not be getting through. Say I’m talking to a lizard, or I’m lizard myself, for lack of a better example.

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