Split infinitive

Split infinitive

A split infinitive is an English-language grammatical construction in which a word or phrase, usually an adverb or adverbial phrase, comes between the marker to and the bare infinitive (uninflected) form of a verb.

For example, a split infinitive occurs in the opening sequence of the Star Trek television series: to boldly go where no man has gone before. Here, the adverb "boldly" splits the full infinitive "to go". More rarely, the term compound split infinitive is used to describe situations in which the infinitive is split by more than one word: The population is expected to more than double in the next ten years.

As the split infinitive became more common in the 19th century, some grammatical authorities sought to introduce a prescriptive rule against it. The construction is still the subject of disagreement among native English speakers as to whether it is grammatically correct or good style: "No other grammatical issue has so divided English speakers since the split infinitive was declared to be a solecism in the 19c [19th century]: raise the subject of English usage in any conversation today and it is sure to be mentioned".[1] However, most modern English usage guides have dropped the objection to the split infinitive.[2]


History of the construction

Middle English

In Old English, infinitives were single words ending in -n or -an (compare modern Dutch and German -n, -en). Gerunds were formed using "to" followed by a verbal noun in the dative case, which ended in -anne or -enne (e.g. tō cumenne = "coming, to come").[3] In Middle English, the bare infinitive and the gerund coalesced into the same form ending in -(e)n (e.g. comen "come"; to comen "to come"). The "to" infinitive was not split in Old or Early Middle English.

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):

and he cleopede him to; alle his wise cnihtes.
for to him reade;[4][5]
And he called to him all his wise knights / to him advise.

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. However, no such reservation applies to the following prose example from John Wycliffe (14th century), who was fond of splitting infinitives:

For this was gret unkyndenesse, to this manere treten there brother.[6]
For this was great unkindness, to in this manner treat their brother.

Modern English

After its rise in Middle English, the construction became rare in the 15th and 16th centuries.[5] William Shakespeare used only one,[7] and it is a special case as it is clearly a syntactical inversion for the sake of rhyme:

Root pity in thy heart, that when it grows
Thy pity may deserve to pitied be (Sonnet 142).

Edmund Spenser, John Dryden, Alexander Pope, and the King James Version of the Bible used none, and they are very rare in the writing of Samuel Johnson. John Donne used them several times, though, and Samuel Pepys also used at least one.[8][9] No reason for the near disappearance of the split infinitive is known; in particular, no prohibition is recorded.[5]

Split infinitives reappeared in the 18th century and became more common in the 19th.[10] Daniel Defoe, Benjamin Franklin, William Wordsworth, Abraham Lincoln, George Eliot, Henry James, and Willa Cather are among the writers who used them. Examples in the poems of Robert Burns attest its presence also in 18th century Scots:

Who dared to nobly stem tyrannic pride. ("The Cottar's Saturday Night")

However, it was especially in colloquial use that the construction experienced a veritable boom. Today, according to the American Heritage Book of English Usage, "people split infinitives all the time without giving it a thought".[8] In corpora of contemporary spoken English, some adverbs such as always and completely appear more often in the split position than the unsplit.[11]

Theories of origins

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.


Traditional grammarians have suggested that the construction appeared because people frequently place adverbs before finite verbs. George Curme writes: "If the adverb should immediately precede the finite verb, we feel that it should immediately precede also the infinitive…"[12] Thus if one says:

She gradually got rid of her teddy bears. and
She will gradually get rid of her teddy bears.

one may, by analogy, wish to say:

She wants to gradually get rid of her teddy bears.

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:

Child: I accidentally forgot to feed the hamster.
Parent: Well, you'll have to try harder not 'to "accidentally forget," won't you?

Here is an example of an adverb being transferred into split infinitive position from a parallel position in a different construction.

Transformational grammar

Transformational grammarians have attributed the construction to a re-analysis of the role of to.[5]


In the modern language, splitting usually involves a single adverb coming between the verb and its marker. Very frequently, this is an emphatic adverb, for example:

I need you all to really pull your weight.
I'm gonna totally pulverise him. (gon-na = going to)

Sometimes it is a negation, as in the self-referential joke:

Writers should learn to not split infinitives.

However, in modern colloquial English almost any adverb may be found in this syntactic position, especially when the adverb and the verb form a close syntactic unit (really-pull, not-split).

Compound split infinitives, splitting by more than one word, usually involve a pair of adverbs or a multi-word adverbial:

We are determined to completely and utterly eradicate the disease.
He is thought to almost never have made such a gesture before.
This is a great opportunity to once again communicate our basic message.

Examples of non-adverbial elements participating in the split-infinitive construction seem rarer in Modern English than in Middle English. The pronoun all commonly appears in this position:

It was their nature to all hurt one another.[13]

and may even be combined with an adverb:

I need you to all really pull your weight.

This is an extension of the subject pronoun (you all). However an object pronoun, as in the Layamon example above, would be unusual in modern English, perhaps because this might cause a listener to misunderstand the to as a preposition:

*And he called to him all his wise knights to him advise.

Other parts of speech would be very unusual in this position. However, in verse, poetic inversion for the sake of meter or of bringing a rhyme word to the end of a line often results in abnormal syntax, as with Shakespeare's split infinitive (to pitied be, cited above), in fact an inverted passive construction in which the infinitive is split by a past participle. Presumably, this would not have occurred in a prose text by the same author.

History of the term

It was not until the very end of the 19th century that terminology emerged to describe the construction. According to the main etymological dictionaries, the earliest use of the term split infinitive on record dates from 1897, with infinitive-splitting and infinitive-splitter following in 1926 and 1927 respectively. The now rare cleft infinitive is slightly older, attested from 1893.[14] The term compound split infinitive is not found in these dictionaries and appears to be very recent.

This terminology implies analysing the full infinitive as a two-word infinitive, which not all grammarians accept. As one who used "infinitive" to mean the single-word verb, Otto Jespersen challenged the epithet: "'To' is no more an essential part of an infinitive than the definite article is an essential part of a nominative, and no one would think of calling 'the good man' a 'split nominative'."[15] However, no alternative terminology has been proposed.

History of the controversy

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,[16] such a rule is not to be found in Lowth's writing and is not known to appear in any other text prior to the mid-19th century.

Possibly the earliest comment against split infinitives was by an anonymous American in 1834:

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. It is this :—The particle, TO, which comes before the verb in the infinitive mode, must not be separated from it by the intervention of an adverb or any other word or phrase; but the adverb should immediately precede the particle, or immediately follow the verb.[17]

In 1840, Richard Taylor also condemned split infinitives as a "disagreeable affectation",[18] and in 1859, Solomon Barrett, Jr., called them "a common fault".[19] 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:

But surely, this is a practice entirely unknown to English speakers and writers. It seems to me that we ever regard the to of the infinitive as inseparable from its verb. And, when we have already a choice between two forms of expression, 'scientifically to illustrate' and 'to illustrate scientifically,' there seems no good reason for flying in the face of common usage.[20]

Others quickly followed, among them Bache, 1869 ("The to of the infinitive mood is inseparable from the verb");[21] William B. Hodgson, 1889; and Raub, 1897 ("The sign to must not be separated from the remaining part of the infinitive by an intervening word").[22]

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);[23] Hall, 1882; Onions, 1904; Jespersen, 1905; Fowler and Fowler, 1906. Despite the defence by some grammarians, by the beginning of the 20th century the prohibition was firmly established in the press and popular belief. In the 1907 edition of The King's English, the Fowler brothers wrote:

"The 'split' infinitive has taken such hold upon the consciences of journalists that, instead of warning the novice against splitting his infinitives, we must warn him against the curious superstition that the splitting or not splitting makes the difference between a good and a bad writer."

In large parts of the school system, the construction was opposed with ruthless vigour. A correspondent to the BBC on a programme about English grammar in 1983 remarked:

"One reason why the older generation feel so strongly about English grammar is that we were severely punished if we didn't obey the rules! One split infinitive, one whack; two split infinitives, two whacks; and so on."[24]

As a result, the debate took on a degree of passion which the bare facts of the matter never warranted. There was frequent skirmishing between the splitters and anti-splitters until the 1960s. George Bernard Shaw wrote letters to newspapers supporting writers who used the split infinitive, and Raymond Chandler complained to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly about a proofreader who changed Chandler's split infinitives:

"By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss-waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will remain split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have."[25]

Post-1960 authorities show a strong tendency to accept the split infinitive. Follett, in Modern American Usage (1966) writes: "The split infinitive has its place in good composition. It should be used when it is expressive and well led up to." [26] Fowler (Gower's revised second edition, 1983) offers the following example of the consequences of refusal to split infinitives: "The greatest difficulty about assessing the economic achievements of the Soviet Union is that its spokesmen try absurdly to exaggerate them; in consequence the visitor may tend badly to underrate them" (italics added). This question results: "Has dread of the split infinitive led the writer to attach the adverbs ['absurdly' and 'badly'] to the wrong verbs, and would he not have done better to boldly split both infinitives, since he cannot put the adverbs after them without spoiling his rhythm" (italics added)? [27] Bernstein (1985) argues that, although infinitives should not always be split, they should be split where doing so improves the sentence: "The natural position for a modifier is before the word it modifies. Thus the natural position for an adverb modifying an infinitive should be just . . . after the to" (italics added). Bernstein continues: "Curme's contention that the split infinitive is often an improvement . . . cannot be disputed." [28] Heffernan and Lincoln, in their modern English composition textbook, agree with the above authors. 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." [29]

Principal objections to the split infinitive

Objections to the split infinitive fall into three categories, of which only the first is accorded any credence by linguists.

The descriptivist objection

Like most linguistic prescription, disapproval of the split infinitive was originally based on the descriptive observation that it was not in fact a feature of the prestige form of English which those proscribing it wished to champion. This is made explicit in the anonymous 1834 text, the first known statement of the position, and in Alford's objection in 1864, the first truly influential objection to the construction, both cited above. Still today, many English speakers avoid split infinitives not because they follow a prescriptive rule, but simply because it was not part of the language that they learned as children. Thus the descriptivist objection involves a person whose idiolect does not have the construction advising against its use on the grounds that it is not the norm. In principle this is a respectable position, but as the construction grows in popularity, its viability is progressively reduced.[citation needed]

Many of those who avoid split infinitives differentiate according to type and register. Infinitives split by multi-word phrases ("compound split infinitives") and those split by pronouns are demonstrably less usual than the straightforward example of an infinitive split by an adverb. Likewise, split infinitives are far more common in speech than in, say, academic writing. Thus, while an outright rejection of the split infinitive is no longer sustainable on descriptive grounds (as it was in 1834), the advice to avoid it in formal settings, and to avoid some types in particular, remains a tenable position. The prescriptive rule of thumb draws on the descriptive observation that certain split infinitives are not usual in certain situations.[citation needed]

The argument from the full infinitive

A second argument is summed up by Alford's statement "It seems to me that we ever regard the to of the infinitive as inseparable from its verb".

The to in the infinitive construction, which is found throughout the Germanic languages, is originally a preposition before the dative of a verbal noun, but in the modern languages it is widely regarded as a particle which serves as a marker of the infinitive. In German, this marker (zu) sometimes precedes the infinitive, but is not regarded as part of it. In English, on the other hand, it is traditional to speak of the "bare infinitive" without to and the "full infinitive" with it, and to conceive of to as part of the full infinitive. (In the sentence "I made my daughter clean her room," clean is a bare infinitive; in "She decided to clean her room", to clean is a full infinitive.) Possibly this is because the absence of an inflected infinitive form made it useful to include the particle in the citation form of the verb, and in some nominal constructions in which other Germanic languages would omit it (e.g. to know her is to love her). The concept of a two-word infinitive can reinforce an intuitive sense that the two words belong together. 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."[30] The usage writer John Opdycke based a similar argument on the closest French, German, and Latin translations.[31]

The two-part infinitive is disputed, however, and some linguists would say that the infinitive in English is also a single-word verb form, which may or may not be preceded by the particle to. Some modern generative analysts classify to as a "peculiar" auxiliary verb;[32] other analysts, as the infinitival subordinator.[33] Moreover, even when the concept of the full infinitive is accepted, it does not necessarily follow that any two words that belong together grammatically need be adjacent to each other. They usually are, but counter-examples are easily found, such as an adverb splitting a two-word finite verb ("will not do", "has not done").

The argument from classical languages

A frequently discussed argument states that the split-infinitive prohibition is based on Latin. An infinitive in Latin is never used with a marker equivalent to English to, and thus there is no parallel there for the construction. The claim that those who dislike split infinitives are applying rules of Latin grammar to English is asserted in many references that accept the split infinitive. One example is in the American Heritage Book of English Usage: "The only rationale for condemning the construction is based on a false analogy with Latin."[8] In more detail, the usage author Marilyn Moriarty states:

The rule forbidding a split infinitive comes from the time when Latin was the universal language of the world. All scholarly, respectable writing was done in Latin. Scientists and scholars even took Latin names to show that they were learned. In Latin, infinitives appear as a single word. The rule which prohibits splitting an infinite [sic] shows deference to Latin and to the time when the rules which governed Latin grammar were applied to other languages.[34]

The assertion is also made in the Oxford Guide to Plain English,[35] Compact Oxford English Dictionary,[36] and Steven Pinker’s Language Instinct,[37] among other sources.[38][39][40]

The argument implies an adherence to the humanist idea of the greater purity of the classics,[41] which particularly in Renaissance times led people to regard aspects of English which differed from Latin as inferior. However by the 19th century such views were no longer widespread; Moriarty is in error about the age of the prohibition. It has also been stated that an argument from Latin would be fallacious because "there is no precedent in these languages for condemning the split infinitive because in Greek and Latin (and all the other romance languages) the infinitive is a single word that is impossible to sever."[42]

However, this is something of a straw man argument as very few proponents of the rule argue from Latin in any case. Certainly, it is clear that dislike of the split infinitive does not originate from Latin. As shown above, none of the prescriptivists who started the split-infinitive controversy in the 19th century mentioned Latin in connection with it. Occasionally teachers and bloggers can be found who do oppose the split infinitive with such an argument,[43] but it is not found in any statements of the position from the 19th or early 20th century, when the prohibition developed. Of the writers cited here (and the many others consulted) who ascribe the split-infinitive prohibition to Latinism, none cite an authority who condemned the construction on that basis. According to Richard Bailey, the prohibition does not come from a comparison with Latin, and the belief that it does is “part of the folklore of linguistics.”[44]

Current views

"When I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so that it will stay split."

Present style and usage manuals deem simple split infinitives unobjectionable in many situations.[46] For example, Curme's Grammar of the English Language (1931) says that not only is the split infinitive correct, but it "should be furthered rather than censured, for it makes for clearer expression". 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.[47] Merriam Webster's Dictionary of English Usage says, "there has never been a rational basis for objecting to the split infinitive."[10] According to Mignon Fogarty, "today almost everyone agrees that it is OK to split infinitives".[48]

Nevertheless, many teachers of English still admonish students against using split infinitives in writing. 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."[47] Likewise, the Oxford Dictionaries do not regard the split infinitive as ungrammatical, but on balance consider it likely to produce a weak style and advise against its use for formal correspondence.[49] R. W. Burchfield's revision of Fowler's Modern English Usage goes farther (quoting Burchfield's own 1981 book The Spoken Word): "Avoid splitting infinitives whenever possible, but do not suffer undue remorse if a split infinitive is unavoidable for the completion of a sentence already begun."[50]

As well as register, tolerance of split infinitives varies according to type. While most authorities accept split infinitives in general, it is not hard to construct an example which any native speaker would reject. Interestingly, Wycliff's Middle English compound split would, if transferred to modern English, be regarded by most people as un-English:

*It was most unkind to in this manner treat their brother.

Attempts to define the boundaries of normality are controversial. In 1996, the usage panel of The American Heritage Book was evenly divided for and against such sentences as,

I expect him to completely and utterly fail

but more than three-quarters of the panel rejected

We are seeking a plan to gradually, systematically, and economically relieve the burden.

Here the problem appears to be the breaking up of the verbal phrase to be seeking a plan to relieve: a segment of the head verbal phrase is so far removed from the remainder that the listener or reader must expend greater effort to understand the sentence. By contrast, 87 percent of the panel deemed acceptable the multi-word adverbial in

We expect our output to more than double in a year

not surprisingly perhaps, because here there is no other place to put the words more than without substantially recasting the sentence.

Splitting infinitives with negations remains an area of contention:

I want to not see you anymore.
I soon learned to not provoke her.

Even those who are generally tolerant of split infinitives may draw the line at these.[10] This appears to be because the traditional idiom, placing the negation before the marker (I soon learned not to provoke her) or with verbs of desire, negating the finite verb (I don't want to see you anymore) remains easy and natural, and is still overwhelmingly the more common construction. Some argue that the two forms have different meanings, while others see a grammatical difference.[11]

Avoiding split infinitives

Writers who avoid splitting infinitives either place the splitting element elsewhere in the sentence (as noted in the 1834 proscription) or reformulate the sentence, perhaps rephrasing it without an infinitive and thus avoiding the issue. Considering that many English speakers throughout history have not known the construction, or have known it only passively, there can be no situation in which it is a necessary part of natural speech. However, a sentence with a split infinitive such as "to more than double" must be completely rewritten; it is ungrammatical to put the words "more than" anywhere else in the sentence.[51] While split infinitives can be avoided, a writer must be careful not to produce an awkward or ambiguous sentence. Fowler (1926) stressed that, if a sentence is to be rewritten to remove a split infinitive, this must be done without compromising the language:

It is of no avail merely to fling oneself desperately out of temptation; one must so do it that no traces of the struggle remain; that is, sentences must be thoroughly remodelled instead of having a word lifted from its original place & dumped elsewhere:...[52]

In some cases, moving the adverbial creates an ungrammatical sentence or changes the meaning. R.L. Trask uses this example:[53]

  • She decided to gradually get rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
"Gradually" splits the infinitive "to get". However, if the adverb were moved, where could it go?
  • She decided gradually to get rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
This might imply that the decision was gradual.
  • She decided to get rid of the teddy bears she had collected gradually.
This implies that the collecting process was gradual.
  • She decided to get gradually rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
This sounds awkward, as it splits the phrase "get rid of".
  • She decided to get rid gradually of the teddy bears she had collected.
This is almost as unwieldy as its immediate predecessor.

The sentence can be rewritten to maintain its meaning, however, by using a noun or a different grammatical aspect of the verb, or by eschewing the informal "get rid":

  • She decided to get rid of her teddy bear collection gradually.[54]
  • She decided she would gradually get rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
  • She decided to rid herself gradually of the teddy bears she had collected.

Fowler notes that the option of rewriting is always available but questions whether it is always worth the trouble.[52]

Popular culture

  • The split infinitive, specifically its famous use in the Star Trek opening sequence, is the basis of a joke from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: "In those days men were real men, women were real women, small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. And all dared to brave unknown terrors, to do mighty deeds, to boldly split infinitives that no man had split before - and thus was the Empire forged."
  • In the film Quiz Show, Charles Van Doren looks at a legal document and says, "Oh, there's a split infinitive here in the second paragraph."
  • Split infinitives are an annoyance to Inspector Fowler (Rowan Atkinson), the main character of the British comedy series The Thin Blue Line. He corrects Constable Goodie for using the famous Star Trek split infinitive only to be chided by his son later in the episode for splitting one himself.
  • Numerous P. G. Wodehouse characters show the tendency to split infinitives, and other characters, who pride themselves upon being purists, detest this. For example, in The Swoop!, the young hero says triumphantly to his prisoner—a German prince with excellent English—"it is when apparently crushed that the Briton is to more than ever be feared". Even in this dire situation, the prince insists that the protagonist has used bad grammar by splitting an infinitive and has thus spoiled his big speech.[55]
  • In the television comedy Frasier, the episode "The Unnatural" shows Frasier Crane warning his son against splitting infinitives.
  • In the criminal comedy-drama series Psych, season 3 episode 5 ("Disco Didn't Die. It Was Murdered!"), Shawn and Gus question the way Chief Karen Vick speaks. She then says "Well, why don't you tell me how to properly say this? ...", to which Gus replies "You split an infinitive."
  • In the television series Gilmore Girls, season 6 episode 12 (Just Like Gwen and Gavin) Paris Geller, in her role as editor of the Yale Daily News, berates a journalist working on an article when he uses a split infinitive.
  • In the movie The Crush (1993 film), Adrienne, played by Alicia Silverstone, jokingly chastises Nick, played by Cary Elwes, that his "split infitives put such a stress on the adverb".
  • In Peter Pan', in the opening soliloquy of Act V, Captain Hook swears: "Split my infinitives, but 'tis my hour of triumph!" [1]

High-profile mentions

See also


  1. ^ Robert Allen, ed (2002). "Split infinitive". Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage (1926). Oxford University Press. pp. 547. ISBN 0198609477. 
  2. ^ Walsh, Bill (2000). Contemporary Books. ed. Lapsing into a comma: a curmudgeon’s guide to the many things that can go wrong in print—and how to avoid them. Lincolnwood, Illinois: Contemporary Books. pp. 112–113. ISBN 0809225352. 
  3. ^ Bryant, M. M. (October 1946). "The Split Infinitive". College English (National Council of Teachers of English) 8 (1): 39–40. doi:10.2307/370450. JSTOR 370450. 
  4. ^ Brook, G.L. and R.F. Leslie (eds.) (1963–1978). British Museum Ms. Cotton Caligula A. IX and British Museum Ms. Cotton Otho C. XIII. Early English Text Society. Oxford University Press. p. 287. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=LayBruO.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/lv1/Archive/mideng-parsed&tag=public&part=all. Retrieved 2006-10-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d Nagle (1994). Nagle takes his historical data from Visser, F. T. (1997) [1973]. An Historical Syntax of the English Language. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-03273-8. 
  6. ^ Quoted by Hall, Fitzedward (1882). "On the Separation, by a Word or Words, of to and the Infinitive Mood". American Journal of Philology (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 3 (9): 17–24. doi:10.2307/287307. JSTOR 287307. ; Strunk, William & White, E.B., The Elements of Style, fourth edition, Longman, 2000, p. 58, also speak of 14th-century examples.
  7. ^ Vizetelly, Frank (1915). Essentials of English Speech and Literature. Read Books. p. 156. ISBN 1-40866-266-3. http://books.google.com/?id=zD4jeNDmNXYC&pg=PA156#v=onepage&q=. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  8. ^ a b c Editors of the American Heritage Dictionaries (1996). The American Heritage Book of English Usage: A Practical and Authoritative Guide to Contemporary English. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 34–35. ISBN 0-395-76786-5. http://books.google.com/?id=BEHFyMCdwssC&printsec=frontcover&dq=American+Heritage+Book+of+English+Usage. Retrieved 2009-07-29. 
  9. ^ Hall (1882)
  10. ^ a b c Merriam-Webster, Inc. (1994). Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of English Usage. Merriam-Webster. pp. 867–868. ISBN 0-87779-132-5. http://books.google.com/?id=2yJusP0vrdgC&pg=PA868#v=onepage&q=. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  11. ^ a b Van Gelderen, Elly (2004). Grammaticalization as Economy. John Benjamins. pp. 245–246. ISBN 9027227950. http://books.google.com/books?id=e7yG6WSuwi8C&pg=PA246#v=onepage&q&f=false. Retrieved 2010-10-31.  .doc version
  12. ^ Curme, George (May 1927). "The Split Infinitive". American Speech (Duke University Press) 2 (8): 341–342. doi:10.2307/452976. JSTOR 452976. 
  13. ^ Quoted from P. Carey (1981) in Burchfield, R. W.; H. W. Fowler (1996). The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. Oxford University Press. p. 738. ISBN 0-19-869126-2. 
  14. ^ OED 1900; OEDS. A Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary. 1972-86. Ed. R. W. Burchfield; Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (2005–2006), "split infinitive".
  15. ^ Jespersen, Otto (1956). Growth and Structure of the English Language. Doubleday. p. 222. 
  16. ^ Richard Lederer, A Man of My Words: Reflections on the English Language, St. Martin's Press, 2003, ISBN 0-312-3175-9, p. 248: "The prohibition of that practice was created in 1762 by one Robert Lowth, an Anglican bishop and self-appointed grammarian". Similarly Peter Stockwell, Sociolinguistics: A Resource Book for Students, Routledge, 2002, 0-415-23452-2, p. 98.
  17. ^ "P." (December 1834). "Inaccuracies of Diction. Grammar". The New-England Magazine 7 (6): 467–470. http://cdl.library.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/moa/pageviewer?root=%2Fmoa%2Fnwen%2Fnwen0007%2F&tif=00479.TIF&cite=http%3A%2F%2Fcdl.library.cornell.edu%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmoa%2Fmoa-cgi%3Fnotisid%3DABS8100-0007-131&coll=moa&frames=1&view=50. Retrieved 2006-10-26. 
  18. ^ "Some writers of the present day have the disagreeable affectation of putting an adverb between to and the infinitive." Quoted by Hall (1882).
  19. ^ Barrett, Jr., Solomon (1859). Barrett's English Syntax. Boston: Bradley, Dayton, & Co.. p. 164. http://books.google.com/books?id=93sQAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA164. Retrieved 2011-09-16. 
  20. ^ Quoted by Hall (1882).
  21. ^ Bache, Richard Meade (1869). Vulgarisms and Other Errors of Speech (second ed.). Philadelphia: Claxton, Remsen, and Haffelfinger. p. 145. http://books.google.com/?id=TQkSAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA145&dq=%22Richard+Meade+Bache%22+vulgarisms. Retrieved 2006-10-31. 
  22. ^ Raub, Robert N. (1897). Helps in the Use of Good English. Philadelphia: Raub & Co.. p. 120. http://books.google.com/?id=ylAzsng06n4C&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=Raub+helps. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  23. ^ Brown, Goold (1851). The Grammar of English Grammars. New York. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/11615/11615-8.txt. Retrieved 2006-11-13. 
  24. ^ Quoted by David Crystal, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, p. 91 .
  25. ^ Hiney, Tom; Frank MacShane (2000). The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters and Nonfiction, 1909–1959. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press. p. 77. ISBN 0871137860. 
  26. ^ Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage: A Guide (New York: Hill and Wang, 1966), 313.
  27. ^ H. W. Fowler, Fowler's Modern English Usage, 2nd ed., rev. and ed. by Sir Ernest Gowers (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press,1983), 582
  28. ^ Theodore M. Bernstein, The Careful Writer (New York: Athenium, 1985), 424-27.
  29. ^ James A. W. Heffernan and John E. Lincoln, Writing: A College Handbook--Annotated Instructor's Edition, 4th ed., (New York: W. W. Norton, 1994), 284-85.
  30. ^ Quackenbos, John Duncan (1896). Practical Rhetoric. American Book Company. p. 222. http://books.google.com/books?id=SMwPAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA222. Retrieved 2011-09-13. 
  31. ^ John B. Opdycke (1941). Get it Right! A Cyclopedia of Correct English Usage. Funk and Wagnalls. p. 174. 
  32. ^ Ivan A. Sag, Thomas Wasow, Emily M. Bender (2003). Syntactic Theory: A Formal Introduction. Center for the Study of Language and Information. p. 361. ISBN 1-57586-400-2. 
  33. ^ Huddleston, Rodney (2002). "Non-finite and verbless clauses". In Huddleston, Rodney, and Pullum, Geoffrey K., eds. The Cambridge Grammar of the English language. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1183–1187. ISBN 0-531-43146-8. 
  34. ^ Moriarty, Marilyn F. (1997). Writing Science Through Critical Thinking. Jones and Bartlett. p. 253. ISBN 0-86720-510-5. http://books.google.com/?id=pB8vCK4ITjQC&pg=RA1-PA253&lpg=RA1-PA253&dq=%22were+applied+to+other+languages%22+Moriarty. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  35. ^ Cutts, Martin (2009). Oxford Guide to Plain English (Third ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 111. ISBN 9780199558506. 
  36. ^ Split infinitive. Compact Oxford English Dictionary.[dead link]
  37. ^ "Steven Pinker. Grammar Puss". Pinker.wjh.harvard.edu. 1992-10-04. http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/1994_01_24_thenewrepublic.html. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  38. ^ Lyons, John L. (1981). Language and Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press. p. 50. ISBN 0-521-23034-9. http://books.google.com/?id=8Wg57a3DdYYC&pg=PA50. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  39. ^ Hill, Alette Olin (1997). "Pronoun Envy". In Carolyn Logan (ed.). Counterbalance: Gendered Perspectives on Writing and Language. Broadview Press. ISBN 1551111276. http://books.google.com/?id=SAY5idFoyS8C&pg=PA104. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  40. ^ Kroeger, Paul R. (2004). Analyzing Syntax: A Lexical-Functional Approach. Cambridge University Press. p. 4. ISBN 0521816238. http://books.google.com/?id=ps1M-uXTrj4C&pg=PA4. Retrieved 2007-01-16. 
  41. ^ Bryson, Bill (2001) [1990]. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way. HarperCollins. ISBN 0-380-71543-0. , p.137.
  42. ^ Richard Lederer (2003). A Man of My Words: Reflections on the English Language. St. Martin's Press. p. 248. ISBN 0-312-3175-9. http://books.google.com/?id=m21_0G7g_3YC&pg=RA4-PA248&lpg=RA4-PA248&dq=%22split+infinitive%22+Lowth. Retrieved 2007-01-27. 
  43. ^ http://www.soyouwanna.com/site/syws/wrerrors/wrerrors6.html
  44. ^ Bailey, Richard (June 2006). "Talking about words: Split Infinitives". Michigan Today News-e (University of Michigan News Service). http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/html/2027.42/62004/words.html. Retrieved 2006-11-29. 
  45. ^ Jeremy Butterfield (2008). Damp Squid: The English Language Laid Bare. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 978-0-19-923906. p. 136.
  46. ^ "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."—Bryson (1990), p. 144.
  47. ^ a b Wilson, Kenneth G. (1993). The Columbia Guide to Standard American English. Columbia University Press. pp. 410–411. ISBN 0-23106-989-8. http://books.google.com/?id=L2ChiO2yEZ0C&pg=PA411#v=onepage&q=. Retrieved 2009-11-12. 
  48. ^ Fogarty, Mignon (2011). The Ultimate Writing Guide for Students. New York: Henry Holt & Company. pp. 17–18. ISBN 978-0-8050-8943. 
  49. ^ "Split infinitives : Oxford Dictionaries Online". Askoxford.com. http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/aboutgrammar/splitinfinitives?view=uk. Retrieved 2011-02-21. 
  50. ^ Fowler, H. W. (1996). Burchfield, R. W. ed. The New Fowler's Modern English Usage. Clarendon Press. p. 738. ISBN 0198691262. 
  51. ^ Split Infinitive. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Fourth Edition, 2000.
  52. ^ a b Fowler (1926), p. 559.
  53. ^ Trask, R. L. (2001). Penguin Books. ed. Mind The Gaffe. London: Penguin. pp. 269–70. ISBN 0-14-051476-7. 
  54. ^ With a slight change in meaning: she could have a teddy bear collection without having collected it herself, e.g., if she bought it in its entirety.
  55. ^ Wodehouse, P. G. (1909). "Part 2, Chapter 10". The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved England. http://www.online-literature.com/pg-wodehouse/the-swoop/17/. Retrieved 2008-11-09. 
  56. ^ The Presidential Oath as defined in the United States Constitution specifically uses the phrase "to faithfully execute." Steven Pinker (2009-01-21). "Oaf of Office". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/opinion/22pinker.html?_r=1&em. Retrieved 2009-02-19. "'in English, infinitives like “to go” and future-tense forms like “will go” are two words, not one, and there is not the slightest reason to interdict adverbs from the position between them'" 


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  • split infinitive — 1. A split infinitive occurs when a word (usually an adverb) or phrase comes between the particle to and the verb of a so called to infinitive (to really love / to really and truly love). No other grammatical issue has so divided English speakers …   Modern English usage

  • split infinitive — split′ infin′itive n. use gram. an expression in which there is a word or phrase, usu. an adverb or adverbial phrase, between to and its accompanying verb form in an infinitive, as in to readily understand[/ex] • Etymology: 1895–1900 usage: The… …   From formal English to slang

  • Split infinitive — (Gram.) A simple infinitive with to, having a modifier between the verb and the to; as in, to largely decrease. Called also {cleft infinitive}. Note: The use of the split infinitive is commonly considered to be ungrammatical, but by most… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of 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. USAGE It is still widely held that splitting infinitives is wrong, a view based on an analogy… …   English terms dictionary

  • split infinitive — split infinitives N COUNT A split infinitive is a structure in which an adverb is put between to and the infinitive of a verb, as in to really experience it . Some people think it is incorrect to use split infinitives …   English dictionary

  • split infinitive — n. Gram. an infinitive with an adverb or other modifier placed between to and the verb form (Ex.: he decided to gradually change his methods): although some object to this construction, many writers use split infinitives where ambiguity or wrong… …   English World dictionary

  • split infinitive — noun Date: 1897 an infinitive with to having a modifier between the to and the verbal (as in “to really start”) Usage: The split infinitive was discovered and named in the 19th century. 19th century writers seem to have made greater use of this… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • split infinitive — Gram. an expression in which there is a word or phrase, esp. an adverb or adverbial phrase, between to and its accompanying verb form in an infinitive, as in to readily understand. [1895 1900] Usage. The rule against placing a word, especially an …   Universalium

  • split infinitive — noun an infinitive with an adverb between to and the verb (e.g., to boldly go ) • Hypernyms: ↑infinitive * * * noun, pl ⋯ tives [count] grammar : an English phrase in which an adverb or other word is placed between to and a verb “To really start” …   Useful english dictionary

  • split infinitive — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms split infinitive : singular split infinitive plural split infinitives linguistics an infinitive in which there is an adverb between the word to and the verb, as in the phrase to completely understand . Some… …   English dictionary

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