Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Split Infinitive

The infinitive is the form of the verb made by adding ‘to’ to its STEM:
Example: to go.

Some traditionalists say that you should never place anything between the ‘to’ and the stem. They argue that since the infinitive is a part of the verb, it should never be split. So it is wrong to say ‘to boldly go’. You should instead say to go boldly or boldly to go.

There is no grammatical justification to this so called rule and people have been splitting infinitives for centuries. Indeed sometimes it is impossible to convey your meaning unless you do split an infinitive. For example:

Everyone else thought they were too young to really cope with adult responsibilities.

If you move really to another position you change the meaning of the sentence.

Everyone else thought they were too young really to cope with adult responsibilities.
Everyone else thought they were too young to cope really with adult responsibilities.

This post is courtesy ‘Oxford A-Z of grammar and punctuation by John Seely.

 This post is a part of the APRIL A-Z Challenge  


  1. I use a mix of both style while writing. Never gave it a thought. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I admire grammarians, but I could never claim to be one. I am more drawn to the content of writing than if someone has technically perfect grammar. However, that is probably the bit of the historian in me.

  3. I love grammar and vocabulary. Words are important, and how you use them more so. I'd rather split the infinitive and say what I mean, than risk having what I mean get lost. But it is important to first understand what a split infinitive is, to know how to use it.

    @Get Lost in Lit


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