Wednesday, February 3, 2010

'Supposably' Is In the Dictionary

Merriam-Webster says that the adverb form of "supposed" is indeed "supposedly," but the adverb form of "supposable" is "supposably."

Webster's New World is a little vaguer, noting "supposably" only as a "related form" of supposed. However, because WNW has a separate listing for "supposedly" and none for "supposably," there's no doubt which form they prefer.

So, what, exactly is the difference between the adverb form of "supposable" and the adverb form of "supposed"? In their adjective forms, they're clearly different. But as sentence adverbs, the distinction blurs.

I'm going to have to think on this one for a long, long time (after I stop retching, of course). Until then, I'll file this under "things I should have looked up a long time ago."
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Granny said...

I need one of those little plastic bags they give you for rough plane flights.


June Casagrande said...

I think that "supposably" was the first or second usage thing I ever took notice of, back before I knew another thing about language.

It's just so "irregardless," you know?

Mignon said...

I haven't been able to wrap my head around this one either. People have asked me to come up with an example sentence that uses "supposably," and I can't do it.

June Casagrande said...

Glad I'm not alone.

From what I could get from the dictionary, the adverb form of supposedly, "supposedly," and the adverb form of "supposable," "supposably," are almost identical.

I guess the last one is more about ability.

I'd define them as sentence adverbs meaning "It is supposed that" and "one can suppose that," respectively. So, taking a stab here, how about:

Supposedly, Britney Spears is talented.

Supposably, she will continue to be successful.

Yuck. Like poison in my mouth. Know I know I won't be using supposably anytime soon.


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