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[Sticky] Splitting Infinitives: A Grammar Mistake or an Effective Writing Technique?

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Splitting infinitives is a common grammatical issue that many writers encounter. It occurs when an adverb is placed between the "to" and the verb in an infinitive phrase. For example, the phrase "to boldly go" in the opening line of the original Star Trek series is a classic example of a split infinitive.

Despite being a common grammatical mistake, splitting infinitives is not always considered incorrect. In fact, many modern grammarians and language experts believe that splitting infinitives can be used effectively in some instances to achieve the desired effect in writing.

The traditional rule against splitting infinitives is based on Latin grammar. In Latin, infinitives are a single word, and it is impossible to split them. When English grammarians in the 18th and 19th centuries were developing the rules of English grammar, they based many of their rules on Latin grammar. However, English is a different language with different rules, and many modern experts argue that the Latin-based rule against splitting infinitives is outdated.

Proponents of splitting infinitives argue that splitting an infinitive can sometimes make a sentence clearer or more emphatic. For example, consider the sentence "I want to quickly finish my homework." By placing the adverb "quickly" between "to" and "finish," the writer emphasizes the speed at which they want to complete their homework. Without the split infinitive, the sentence would read "I want to finish my homework quickly," which is less emphatic.

However, there are times when splitting infinitives can make a sentence awkward or unclear. In some cases, the adverb can be moved to a different part of the sentence to avoid splitting the infinitive. For example, instead of saying "I need to really study for my exam," the writer could say "I really need to study for my exam."

In summary, splitting infinitives is a grammatical issue that has been debated for centuries. While it is generally considered a mistake in formal writing, some modern experts argue that it can be used effectively in certain situations. As with any grammatical issue, the key is to use good judgment and consider the context in which the sentence is being written.

This topic was modified 1 week ago by wcadmin

Grady Lucas
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