As a writer, you may have heard of the term “split infinitive”. Simply put, a split infinitive occurs when a word or group of words is inserted between the two parts of an infinitive. An infinitive is a verb form that is typically preceded by the word “to”. A split infinitive can be a contentious issue among grammarians and language enthusiasts, with some arguing that it should be avoided at all costs.
For example, the simple infinitive “to write” becomes a split infinitive when another word is placed between “to” and “write”, such as “to quickly write” or “to boldly write”. While some may argue that split infinitives disrupt the natural order of a sentence and should be avoided, others believe that they can be used to add emphasis or create a more natural flow of language.
Whether or not to use split infinitives ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific context in which you are writing. As a writer, it’s important to be aware of this grammatical construction and to make an informed decision on whether or not to use it in your writing.
Interested in great lifestyle tips? Read our next post!
The Definition of Split Infinitives
A split infinitive is a grammatical construction that occurs when a word or group of words is inserted between the two parts of an infinitive. An infinitive, in grammatical terms, is the base form of a verb, usually preceded by the word “to.” For instance, “to run” is an infinitive.
Splitting an infinitive involves putting a word or phrase between the “to” and the verb. An example of a split infinitive would be “to boldly go,” which is often cited as an example of this construction.
Some grammarians argue that split infinitives should be avoided, but others believe that they can be used effectively to achieve a particular emphasis or clarity of meaning. It is also worth noting that splitting infinitives is common in everyday speech and some forms of writing.
One reason for avoiding split infinitives is that they can create ambiguity or confusion in sentences. For instance, “to quickly run” could be interpreted as either “to run quickly” or “to run quickly.”
Despite the debates around the use of split infinitives, many writers and speakers use them to achieve a particular effect. For instance, the famous Star Trek opening line “to boldly go where no one has gone before” might have had less impact if it had been phrased differently.
In conclusion, while split infinitives remain a matter of debate among grammarians, they can be an effective way to add emphasis or clarity to certain phrases. While avoiding ambiguity is important, there are occasions where splitting an infinitive can improve the overall quality of a sentence.
A Split Infinitive Occurs When a Word or Group of Words is Inserted the Two Parts of an Infinitive.
As I mentioned earlier in this article, a split infinitive occurs when a word or group of words is inserted the two parts of an infinitive. To help clarify this concept further, let’s take a look at some examples of split infinitives.
- To boldly go where no man has gone before. Here, the word “boldly” splits the infinitive “to go”. The correct grammatical way to phrase this sentence would be “to go boldly”, but this famous line from Star Trek has become iconic due to its split infinitive.
- He decided to immediately leave. In this example, the word “immediately” splits the infinitive “to leave”. Again, the correct way to phrase this sentence would be “to leave immediately”.
- I want to understand this concept. Here, the word “really” splits the infinitive “to understand”. A better way to say this sentence would be “I want to understand this concept well”.
- She chose to carefully study for the exam. In this sentence, the word “carefully” splits the infinitive “to study”. A more correct way to phrase this sentence would be “She chose to study carefully for the exam”.
As you can see, split infinitives can be easily identified in these examples. While it’s not necessarily ungrammatical to use a split infinitive, it’s important to use them sparingly and only when the alternative phrasing sounds awkward or less clear. With that said, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your language choices and use proper grammar whenever possible.
Joel is a whiz with computers. When he was just a youngster, he hacked into the school's computer system and changed all of the grades. He got away with it too - until he was caught by the vice-principal! Joel loves being involved in charities. He volunteers his time at the local soup kitchen and helps out at animal shelters whenever he can. He's a kind-hearted soul who just wants to make the world a better place.