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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Split Infinitives | Mignon Fogarty, Grammar Girl, Quick and Dirty Tips ™

Forget what you may have learned in school. Splitting infinitives is OK to do in your writing.

As well-known author Mignon Fogarty says at the beginning of her Web article:
You may have heard there's a rule that you shouldn't split infinitives, but I'm here to tell you it's not a real rule, and the idea itself is based on a shaky foundation.
In her Top Ten Grammar Myths, it's No. 2:
You shouldn't split infinitives. Wrong! Nearly all grammarians want to boldly tell you it's OK to split infinitives. An infinitive is a two-word form of a verb. An example is "to tell." In a split infinitive, another word separates the two parts of the verb. "To boldly tell" is a split infinitive because “boldly” separates “to” from “tell.”
Mignon's article gives a lot of information about split infinitives, and I recommend reading it. Here's my brief advice in Garbl's Editorial Style Manual:
split infinitives Avoid awkward sentence constructions that split the infinitive forms of a verb, such as to leave or to help, as in this sentence: Try to not awkwardly or incorrectly split infinitives. But splitting infinitives is grammatically correct--and even useful if it helps strengthen the meaning of a sentence by placing the modifier before the word it's modifying: He wanted to really impress the council. Unfortunately, split infinitives can distract some readers who think they're incorrect.
I list it first at Garbl's Myths and Superstitions of Writing, citing many writing authorities through the decades.

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Mignon's article is featured today, Jan. 16, in my online daily paper, Garbl's Style: Write Choices, available at the Editorial Style tab above and by free email subscription.

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