Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don't Take My Word for It (Plus a late-edition addition**)

Yesterday's mention of the no-splitting-infinitives myth prompted a plea from Evie. She asked for further info to release her from a lifetime of "knuckle rapping" she has received for placing adverbs after her infinitival "to."

So I opened my books and typed up some selective excerpts*. Here they are:

Although from about 1850 to 1925 many grammarians stated otherwise, it is
now widely acknowledged that adverbs sometimes justifiably separate the 'to'
from the principal verb. —Chicago Manual of Style

No absolute taboo should be placed on the use of simple adverbs between the
particle 'to' and the verbal part of the infinitive. —Fowler's Modern English

Some infinitives seem to improve on being split, just as a stick of round
stovewood does. 'I cannot bring myself to really like the fellow.' —The
Elements of Style

I don't have anything against split infinitives--in their proper place. —
Word Court (Barbara Wallraff)

I consider it my calling to dispel the myth that it's against the rules to
split infinitives. It's fine to split infinitives. —Grammar Girl's Quick and
Dirty Tips for Better Writing

There is nothing wrong with splitting an infinitive. —The Careful Writer
(copyright 1965)

Split away! ... No matter how many knuckles have been whacked with rulers
over the "split infinitive," grammar experts will testify that there is no rule
-- and never has been a rule -- against splitting infinitives. —Lapsing Into a
(Bill Walsh, Business Copy Desk Chief, Washington Post)

Avoid the split infinitive wherever possible; but if it is the clearest and
the most natural construction, use it boldly. —Usage and Abusage (first
copyright 1942)

Occasionally, however, a split is not awkward and is necessary to convey
the meaning. —Associated Press Stylebook

Split infinitives. See "Superstitions." —Garner's Modern American Usage

If some windbag ever tells you that the famous Star Trek opening is
grammatically incorrect, you can tell him to boldly blow it out his transporter.
After that, you'll have no more tribble at all. —Grammar Snobs Are Great Big
(written by yours truly)

* In fairness I should note that I was deliberately gathering ammo for Evie. Many of these publications include caveats and say that such "splits" are less than ideal. Still, none of 'em says they're a no-no.

** For those who don't see the comments unless they click on them, Blackwell shared a link to really fun comic: Thank you, Blackwell!

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