Wednesday, April 19, 2006

never split an infinitive

so you want to be a writer.

then you must know the rules of the road.


Blogger Ben said...

Awesome blog. I love the link to William Safire. Thanks for that!

Tue May 09, 03:16:00 PM  
Blogger Matt said...

I must say I do not agree, and for my support, I will refer to Bill Walsh, Copy Chief, Business Desk, the Washington Post:

Alexandria, Va.: Some of the translators of the Jewish Publication Society's Bible wanted to split infinitives, and others objected.

Is it okay to split infinitives?

Bill Walsh: Yes. It's more than OK; I say it's generally preferable. The best place for a modifier is adjacent to the word it modifies, and that means adverbs work best next to verbs. "To boldly go where no man has gone before" is a heck of a lot better than "boldly to go" or "to go boldly."

In "Elephants," I say split infinitives are the chicken cacciatore of English usage. The big, fat stereotypical Italian mamma in heartburn-remedy commercials is always talking about "my CHICK-en CAC-ciatore," and the stereotypical bespectacled nerdy English-major type on TV is always talking about split infinitives. Just as chicken cacciatore isn't the crowning achievement of Italian cooking, split infinitives are not the biggest sin in flawed English. They're not a sin at all.

I'm not exactly being a maverick here. Almost all authorities agree. The superstition, the story goes, comes from Latin, where infinitives were single words and therefore couldn't possibly be split.

Would that we could debate these points all day!

Tue Jun 20, 09:19:00 AM  

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