"most important," or "most importantly"?

Q. Which is correct? “Most important, you enable your students to pursue their passions” or “Most importantly, you enable your students to pursue their passions.”

A. Although the second version is considered incorrect by many sticklers, and the first one sounds wrong to people who don’t know better, they are both correct.

New Questions and Answers [Chicago Manual of Style Online]


  1. As a writer, I continue to use "more important" as shorthand for "[what's] more important." But as Chicago notes, sometimes in being right we invite "correction" from readers or editors who are less literate. I needn't remind you how often this happens when a skilled writer finds himself edited by government functionaries. Only recently, one of my numerous editors corrected "mother lode" to "motherload."

    That said, we must concede that in both written and spoken English, an adverb or adverbial phrase will sometimes modify an entire clause or nothing at all. Consider "Honestly, what were you thinking?" and "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn."

    Chicago joins a chorus of style authorities that bid use to make room for "more importantly." As a writer, I'll stick with "more important." But as an editor, I'll increasingly give "more importantly" a pass.

  2. You are right. I totally agree with you.