Definition of split infinitive in English:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Definition of split infinitive in:
- US English dictionary
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