What are split infinitives? Split infinitives have been discussed a lot. It happens when you put an adverb between to and a verb.
For example: “She used to secretly admire him”, and “You have to really watch him”.
Why do people think that there is anything wrong with split infinitives?
Because some people (including teachers!) believe that split infinitives are grammatically incorrect and should be avoided at all costs. However, in Latin, it is impossible to split an infinitive because “to go” (for example) is only one word!
At some time, it was decided that English grammar should follow Latin grammar, hence the English grammar rule NEVER to split your infinitives. Are they correct? No, not really, since their objection to splitting infinitives is based on comparisons with the structure of Latin, which (of course) differs from English.
People have been splitting infinitives for centuries, especially in spoken English, and avoiding splitting infinitives can sound clumsy. It can also change the emphasis of what’s being said.
Just look at the following example:
“You really have to watch him” does not have the same meaning as: ”You have to watch him very closely”.
Although the grammar rule concerning split infinitives isn’t followed as strictly today as it used to be, many writers still abide to them. That is the reason why split infinitives are still the norm in formal writing. Only when alternative wording seems very clumsy or would alter the meaning of a sentence, do writers dare to split an infinitive.
More the pity, since the rule of splitting infinitives is basically bogus.
Exhibit A: “To boldly go [where no man has gone before]” which is a perfectly good English phrase!
So enjoy splitting your infinites! Please post your examples and experiences!
(Image courtesy of the YUNiversity)