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Infinitives: To Split or Not to Split

We've all heard the rule: Don't split infinitives! Yet we find many great writers that ignore the rule. What does splitting an infinitive mean and should you avoid it as a writer? Here is some interesting insight on the topic.

Split Infinitive- The Definition

An infinitive is the basic, two-word form of a verb. To run, to see, to laugh are all infinitives. When you split an infinitive, you place a word, usually an adverb, in between the "to" and the verb. The most famous example of a split infinitive is from Star Trek: "To boldly go where no one has gone before." The adverb, "boldly," splits the infinitive "to go."

Rule Against Splitting?

The origin of the rule against splitting infinitives comes from Henry Alford's 1864 book, The Queen's English. Read the passage for yourself, and see that he recommends against splitting the infinitive because it is a "practice entirely unknown to English speakers and writers" and "there seems no good reason to fly in the face of common usage." Is this a rule? Is it true that the practice is foreign to English speakers? Certainly not.

Go Ahead and Split, Sometimes

Instead of thinking that splitting infinitives is wrong, or bad writing, know that its merit depends on the style, flow, and meaning of the words. If I were to say, "I really want to kiss you now," it implies something different than, "I want to really kiss you now." If you can get away with splitting the infinitive, and it sounds right, then go ahead. Be aware that many people think it is wrong, so you may want to avoid it if you are being judged.

For Tutoring in Powder Springs, GA

If you are looking for more help with grammar, writing, reading, or math, check out the one-to-one tutoring programs at The Tutoring Center in Powder Springs. Call (770) 222-7133 and ask for your free diagnostic assessment today.  


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