Welcome back to Grammar Time! Today we’ll be going over split infinitives. So, what is an infinitive and how do you split it?
What is an infinitive?
An infinitive is the basic form of a verb. It’s generally unattached to any inflection and isn’t bound to a particular subject or tense. You can recognize the infinitive form of a verb as “to” + [verb]. For example, “to try”, “to run”, “to imagine”—these are in their infinitive form.
How do you split it?
A split infinitive happens when you take the infinitive form of a verb and put a word between the “to” and verb.
One fun example of a split infinitive can be found in Star Trek’s motto: To boldly go where no one has gone before.
Since “boldly” appears between “to” and “go”, it’s splitting the infinitive “to go”. Most of the time, infinitives are split by adverbs (words that describe how something is being done).
In Star Trek, they are going boldly where no one has ever gone before. Imagine switching the adverb to something different, like “to timidly go where no one has gone before”. It completely changes how the action is being completed.
Are split infinitives grammatical?
How is splitting infinitives seen in the grammar world? A lot of schools teach that splitting infinitives is incorrect; however, there are actually no set rules against splitting infinitives. It has been discouraged since as early as the 1800s, but split infinitives can actually be found in a lot of formal writing and using split infinitives is completely acceptable.
For the most part, using split infinitives in everyday writing or speaking is only problematic when/if it affects how natural what’s being said comes across.
So, there you have it! You should be able to better understand what a split infinitive is now. ‘Til next time!