Definition of split infinitive in English:

split infinitive

noun

  • A construction consisting of an infinitive with an adverb or other word inserted between to and the verb, e.g. she seems to really like it.

    • ‘If they believe infinitives shouldn't be split, it won't matter if you can show that every user of English on the planet has used split infinitives, they'll still say that nonetheless it's just wrong.’
    • ‘The British tend to be severe about split infinitives.’
    • ‘You cannot split infinitives in Latin because they are single words.’
    • ‘After all, the real social problems are feral youths and binge drinkers and people who split infinitives.’
    • ‘In an effort to drag this blog back towards more decorous things, where do you stand on split infinitives?’
    • ‘There is a pedant on your staff who spends far too much of his time searching for split infinitives.’
    • ‘The consensus in the 20th century… seems to be that awkward avoidance of the split infinitive has produced more bad writing than use of it.’
    • ‘And since that was a split infinitive, it seems I've forgotten completely how to write as well.’
    • ‘It's OK, she says, to violate the elementary-school prohibition against split infinitives.’
    • ‘I do not think you will find any split infinitives.’
    • ‘Spelling only matters in Scrabble and to retired civil servants who write dull letters in green ink and teach their budgerigars not to split infinitives.’
    • ‘The only possible flaw that he ever revealed, and for which he was teased, was a propensity to split infinitives.’
    • ‘‘He told me there was a split infinitive on page 23,’ recalls Lee, who immediately corrected the error at a cost of $9,000.’
    • ‘You may deny that you use some variant - possessive antecedents for pronouns, split infinitives, stranded prepositions, certain types of ‘dangling modifiers’ - when in fact you use it with some frequency.’
    • ‘We do not frown on sentences that begin with ‘And’ or ‘But’; we will split no hairs over split infinitives; and we frequently switch from first to third person and from past tense to present in the same paragraph.’
    • ‘It's not the split infinitive that's at issue here.’
    • ‘Far from being ungrammatical, split infinitives are (as we have explained before on Language Log) always an option for modifiers of infinitival clauses, and sometimes the only option.’
    • ‘This goes as much for an awkward split infinitive as it does for an adverb placed oddly in order to preserve the integrity of the infinitive.’
    • ‘But the fact is that every decent guide to grammar and usage on the market agrees that the split infinitive is grammatical and often preferably to all other alternatives.’
    • ‘For example, I have been trying for a decade or three to explain to the copy editors on newspapers that it is lower than barbarism to split infinitives.’

Usage

You have to really watch him; to boldly go where no man has gone before. It is still widely held that splitting infinitives—separating the infinitive marker to from the verb, as in the above examples—is wrong. The dislike of split infinitives is long-standing but is not well founded, being based on an analogy with Latin. In Latin, infinitives consist of only one word (e.g. crescere ‘to grow’; amare ‘to love’), which makes them impossible to split: therefore, so the argument goes, they should not be split in English either. But English is not the same as Latin. In particular, the placing of an adverb in English is extremely important in giving the appropriate emphasis: you really have to watch him and to go boldly where no man has gone before, examples where the infinitive is not split, convey a different emphasis or sound awkward. In the modern context, some traditionalists may continue to hold up the split infinitive as an error in English. However, in standard English the principle of allowing split infinitives is broadly accepted as both normal and useful

Pronunciation:

split infinitive

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