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GRAMMAR GURU

Regrettably/Regretfully
The reporter pressed the doorbell. Chimes echoed inside, growing fainter and fainter. "There must be 100 rooms in this place," she thought. Sooner than she expected, the door opened and a sober matron in black said, "May I help you?" "I'm here to interview Miss Otis. Debbie Ochs, the Times. Crime beat." She held up her press card. The matron regarded her. "Regrettably, Miss Otis is unable to accommodate you." She began to close the door. Ochs stopped it with her foot. "Wait. Why? Can we reschedule?" The matron's demeanor softened. "I'm sorry," she said, regretfully. "I can't say any more." Ochs let her close the door. Regrettably, she'd have to tell her editor that she'd just lost the biggest story of her career.

Remember: regretfully -- "Sorry about that. Didn't mean to throw that wrench in the works," said the plumber; regrettably -- "Unfortunately, I can't fix that leak. I need a wrench."

Quiz
1. Ochs contacted Miss Otis's PR rep, whose secretary said, "(Regrettably/Regretfully), she's in meetings all day."

2. Members of the jury empathized with Miss Otis. Still, (regrettably/regretfully), they found her guilty of plugging her young lover 347 times.

3. (Regrettably/Regretfully) for Ochs, her editor didn't want to hear any stories about why her big exclusive got away, and Ochs got the ax.

4. "I (regrettably/regretfully) must inform you, Mr. Pinocchio, that Dr. Snippet cannot refund your money."

Answers
1. Regrettably ("OK, guys, how do we put a positive spin on this?")

2. regretfully (If she'd only blown him away with one big bullet, it might have been a different story.)

3. Regrettably (The job had been murder to begin with.)

4. regrettably (Dr. Snippet had pruned Pinocchio's schnoze and, regrettably, two humdingers had sprouted in its place.)

Visit Ellie Grossman at www.thegrammatguru.com.