Thursday, August 27, 2009

SPLIT INFINITIVES

THERE ARE three kinds of writers in the world: those who believe split infinitives are grammatically correct; those who believe they are not; and those who don't much care. Actually, there are also those who will use them only in speech and internalization. Or do I really mean, "will only use them in speech and internalization"?

To boldly go ... may be the most famous split infinitive of all times. But is it grammatically correct?

Apparently, Shakespeare used just one split infinitive: Thy pity may deserve to pitied be (Sonnet 142). But they say he used it for the purpose of rhyme.

In case you're not clear about the definition of a split infinitive, it's when an Adverb or Adverbial phrase comes between the preposition or marker TO and the limitless, endless or infinite VERB.

Infinitives:

to go
to live
to run
to grasp
to make
to know
to understand...

Split infinitives:

to boldly go
to boldly live
to boldly run
to boldly grasp
to boldly make
to boldly know
to boldly understand ....

You get my drift.

I'm of the mind that if you truly understand something, clearly and concisely, then you should be able to break any rule you want. Especially if the jury's out on whether it's a rule or not.

To be or not to be...

To knowingly be or not to knowingly be ... doesn't have the same gusto, eh?

Joylene chose to quickly ruminate over the split infinitive.
Joylene chose to ruminate quickly over the split infinitive.
Joylene chose quickly to ruminate over the split infinitive.
Joylene chose to ruminate over the split infinitive quickly.
Joylene quickly chose to ruminate over the split infinitive.

If anyone argues with you over your grammatical use of a split infinitive, tell them Joylene said it was all right - as long as the meaning of your sentence was clear.

4 comments :

  1. Very funny. I'm laughing, but honestly, I get split infinitives now. I was too embarrassed to admit that before. Thanks, Joylene. You're a good teacher. Wish we had more of you.

    AntsyJansy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Infinitives are definitely easier to split than atoms! I only have one question: do quick ruminations include vigorous chewing? Sorry ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Joylene. I'm Annon this time because I'm too embarrassed to admit I never could figure this split infinitive stuff before. Now I'll just think "To Boldly Go" and I'll remember.

    ReplyDelete

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