Why? [5] William Shakespeare used it once,[8] or perhaps twice. This is not objected to even when an adverb precedes the second infinitive. What’s a split infinitive then? In the modern language, splitting usually involves a single adverb coming between the verb and its marker. [2] Some linguists disagree that a to-infinitive phrase can meaningfully be called a "full infinitive" and, consequently, that an infinitive can be "split" at all. There was frequent skirmishing between the splitters and anti-splitters until the 1960s. Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Franklin, William Wordsworth, Abraham Lincoln, George Eliot, Henry James, and Willa Cather are among the writers who used them. "It is exceedingly difficult to find any authority who condemns the split infinitive—Theodore Bernstein, H. W. Fowler, Ernest Gowers, Eric Partridge, Rudolph Flesch, Wilson Follett, Roy H. Copperud, and others too tedious to enumerate here all agree that there is no logical reason not to split an infinitive. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. I see what they mean. A split infinitive occurs in the opening sequence of the Star Trek television series: to boldly go where no man has gone before. In 1840, Richard Taylor also condemned split infinitives as a "disagreeable affectation",[29] and in 1859, Solomon Barrett, Jr., called them "a common fault". The first known example of a split infinitive in English, in which a pronoun rather than an adverb splits the infinitive, is in Layamon's Brut (early 13th century): This may be a poetic inversion for the sake of meter, and therefore says little about whether Layamon would have felt the construction to be syntactically natural. For instance, the rhetorician John Duncan Quackenbos said, "To have is as much one thing, and as inseparable by modifiers, as the original form habban, or the Latin habere. Some sentences, they write, "are weakened by … cumbersome splitting", but in other sentences "an infinitive may be split by a one-word modifier that would be awkward in any other position".[41]. go) is extended by the particle to in order to produce the to-infinitive phrase (sometimes termed a full infinitive), to go. Another early prohibition came from an anonymous American in 1834:[24][26][27], The practice of separating the prefix of the infinitive mode from the verb, by the intervention of an adverb, is not unfrequent among uneducated persons … I am not conscious, that any rule has been heretofore given in relation to this point … The practice, however, of not separating the particle from its verb, is so general and uniform among good authors, and the exceptions are so rare, that the rule which I am about to propose will, I believe, prove to be as accurate as most rules, and may be found beneficial to inexperienced writers. A split infinitive occurs when one or more items, as an adverb or adverbial phrase, separates the particle and the infinitive. This terminology implies analysing the full infinitive as a two-word infinitive, which not all grammarians accept. comen "come"; to comen "to come"). A frequently discussed argument states that the split-infinitive prohibition is based on Latin. The most famous example is Star Trek’s “to boldly go where no one has gone before”. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new WORDS, to seek out new grammatical constructions, to boldly go where no one has gone before. James A. W. Heffernan and John E. Lincoln. Grammatical perfection, in our family, was a requirement (I have been known to argue grammar and punctuation – passionately – with any challenger). Tautology; use of … Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.” ... Rules of grammar were taken seriously, … To boldly go where no man has gone before. This line reinvigorated the last-lasting debate over split infinitives. … The construction still renders disagreement, but modern English usage guides have dropped the objection to it. "[21] However, no alternative terminology has been proposed. In an example drawn from the British National Corpus the use of to not be against not to be is only 0.35% (from a total of 3121 sampled usages). To seek out new life and new civilizations. boldly go where no man has gone before phrase. Although it is sometimes reported that a prohibition on split infinitives goes back to Renaissance times, and frequently the 18th century scholar Robert Lowth is cited as the originator of the prescriptive rule,[23] such a rule is not to be found in Lowth's writing, and is not known to appear in any text before the 19th century. Although many writers who support the split infinitive suggest that this argument motivated the early opponents of the construction, there is little primary source evidence for this; indeed, Richard Bailey has noted that despite the lack of evidence, this theory has simply become “part of the folklore of linguistics.”[54], Present style and usage manuals deem simple split infinitives unobjectionable. to know her is to love her). In Middle English, the bare infinitive and the gerund coalesced into the same form ending in -(e)n (e.g. Finally, there is a construction with a word or words between to and an infinitive that nevertheless is not considered a split infinitive, namely, infinitives joined by a conjunction. tō cumenne = "coming, to come").[3]. OK. [11] In corpora of contemporary spoken English, some adverbs such as always and completely appear more often in the split position than the unsplit.[14]. Don’t split an infinitive. These are infinitives that have an adverb between 'to' and the verb. As a result, the debate took on a degree of passion which the bare facts of the matter never warranted. Although it is difficult to say why the construction developed in Middle English, or why it revived so powerfully in Modern English, a number of theories have been postulated. How on earth can they tell? It was the Victorians who decided that splitting an infinitive was a grammatical error. But surely split infinitives don’t stop being mistakes just because more people use them? [57] Merriam–Webster's Dictionary of English Usage says: "the objection to the split infinitive has never had a rational basis". The latter phrasing would result … Most of the surface of the earth has now … This produced 11.5m words, with a rate of 117 split infinitives per million, compared with a rate of 44 per million recorded in the early 1990s. A special case is the splitting of an infinitive by the negation in sentences like. Here, the adverb "boldly" splits the full infinitive "to go". George Curme writes: "If the adverb should immediately precede the finite verb, we feel that it should immediately precede also the infinitive…"[15] Thus, if one says: This is supported by the fact that split infinitives are often used as echoes, as in the following exchange, in which the riposte parodies the slightly odd collocation in the original sentence: Here is an example of an adverb being transferred into split infinitive position from a parallel position in a different construction. [30] However, the issue seems not to have attracted wider public attention until Henry Alford addressed it in his Plea for the Queen's English in 1864: A correspondent states as his own usage, and defends, the insertion of an adverb between the sign of the infinitive mood and the verb. One split infinitive, one whack; two split infinitives, two whacks; and so on.[36]. By contrast, 87 percent of the panel deemed acceptable the multi-word adverbial in. Infinitives are those two-word verb forms that begin with “to” such as “to … Some modern generative analysts classify to as a "peculiar" auxiliary verb;[44] other analysts, as the infinitival subordinator.[45]. The complete introductory speech, spoken by William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk at the beginning of each episode, is: Written By Gene Roddenberry & Alexander Courage. The Columbia Guide to Standard American English notes that the split infinitive "eliminates all possibility of ambiguity", in contrast to the "potential for confusion" in an unsplit construction. As well as varying according to register, tolerance of split infinitives varies according to type. In the English language, a split infinitive or cleft infinitive is a grammatical construction in which a word or phrase is placed between the particle to and the infinitive that comprise a to-infinitive. [65], "When I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split. The Victorians decided that splitting an infinitive was a grammatical mistake, and some people still agree with them. However, no such reservation applies to the following prose example from John Wycliffe (14th century), who often split infinitives:[6], After its rise in Middle English, the construction became rare in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Victorians … To boldly go where no man has gone before. Highly logical, captain: Star Trek’s ‘to boldly go’ is the most famous example of the split infinitive. How? [24][25][26], Possibly the earliest comment against split infinitives was by the American John Comly in 1803.[18]. Even as these authorities were condemning the split infinitive, others were endorsing it: Brown, 1851 (saying some grammarians had criticized it and it was less elegant than other adverb placements but sometimes clearer);[35] Hall, 1882; Onions, 1904; Jespersen, 1905; and Fowler and Fowler, 1906. Because the prohibition has become so widely known, the Columbia Guide recommends that writers "follow the conservative path [of avoiding split infinitives when they are not necessary], especially when you're uncertain of your readers' expectations and sensitivities in this matter". Traditional grammarians have suggested that the construction appeared because people frequently place adverbs before finite verbs. The argument would be that the construction should be avoided because it is not found in the classics. Despite the defence by some grammarians, by the beginning of the 20th century the prohibition was firmly established in the press. Valiant relays a tale of terror--a magnetic storm at the edge of …