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Split Infinitive

Phonetics:

splɪt ɪnˈfɪnətɪv

Pronunciation:

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Infinitive Unleashed: Exploring the Art of Splitting in English Grammar

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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Introduction

It is very easy to define split infinitive. A split infinitive is when you use an extra adverb between a simple infinitive in English grammar. Generally, a split infinitive is considered an error and consists of an additional word between a simple infinitive. Some people also say splitting an infinitive is not a mistake and adds more meaning to the sentence and the verb.

It was the Victorians who first decided that splitting an infinitive was an error and that it is said to be a common misconception. There have been various debates, primarily Curme’s grammar of the language (1931), stating that a split infinitive is correct and helps to make a clear impression.

There have been various details that emphasise that split infinitives have multiple importance. These include:

  • It helps to add more meaning to the sentence.
  • It emphasises a lot on the primary verb.
  • It helps to have clear communication.

These are some of the identified benefits of using a split infinitive in sentences.

What are Split Infinitives?

There is a lot of debate about the split Infinitives definition. You can define a split infinitive as an extra word between a simple infinitive in the English language. A group of people define it as a mistake in English grammar, and the debate continues. It can be understood that using a split Infinitive is not a mistake, and it can add more meaning to your sentence. 

Split infinitive plays an essential role in appropriately defining the sentence’s verb. It has a role in improving communication and making it meaningful. The traditional grammar rules to define this are:

  • The roots of traditional grammar start from the classical Latin and Greek philologists. Classical grammar had the traditional definition of the parts of speech in the English language.

  • Most rules have been similar, but a primary rule that changed in the 21st century is splitting sentences and infinitives. Previously it was said that split infinitive was a syntax error, while presently, it is appropriate for your sentence.

The ultimate misunderstanding or myth about a split infinitive is that it is still an error if you use it in your sentence. The rule has changed, and using it in the sentence is now positive when appropriate.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Split Infinitives

There are primary benefits of split infinitives, but they also have certain drawbacks, which we must discuss here. 

Benefits 

The primary benefits of a split infinitive that adds more emphasis to English grammar are:

Add more meaning to sentences and verbs.

A split infinitive will help you to add more meaning to your sentence and help to define the verb properly. It will help you to understand what the sentence is talking about and deliberately define it. 

Add clarity

The clarity in the sentence is a crucial thing. A Split infinitive helps to add more clarity to the sentence and make it appropriate.

Easy Communication

A split infinitive positively affects communication as it emphasises smooth communication. It helps make communication clearer and easier for both the speaker and the listener.

The Split Infinitives example are:

  • They decided to not go there.
  • James declared to not meet the guard.

Drawbacks

There are specific disadvantages to using split infinitives, which you must remember. These are:

  • Avoid splitting an infinitive in the sentence if you are writing formal letters. It is not appropriate to use split infinitives while writing a formal speech.

  • You should also avoid the split infinitive when you think that the meaning of your writing is changing. If there is a drastic change in your meaning, then using this split infinitive will be an error.

The wrong split infinitive example is:

  • I decided to directly go to the theatre. (I decided to go directly to the theatre)

It is an example where a split infinitive is used wrongly, and you can avoid it in this situation.

How to Identify Split Infinitives?

A few techniques and tips will help you recognise these split infinitives in your sentence. These techniques are:

  • If there is an extra adverb between a simple infinitive, you can identify it as a split infinitive.
  • If you see an unnecessary extra word in the sentence, it might also be a split infinitive. 

There is a basic difference between a simple infinitive and a split infinitive. A simple infinitive will not have an extra adverb in the sentence. A split infinitive will have an extra adverb in the sentence that will help to have more clarity in it. An example that will emphasise your understanding:

  • We decided to go there today. (Simple Infinitive)
  • We decided to not go back. (Split infinitive)

Examples of Split Infinitives

A variety of sentences contain split infinitives and will help you understand the concept easily. The split infinitive example are:

  • They decided to suddenly go out. (The simple form is ‘to go’. The word ‘suddenly’ is added to make a split infinitive.)
  • We decided to quickly read the text. (The simple infinitive is to use ‘to read’. Using the word ‘quickly’ creates a splitting.

Some more split infinitives examples using special concepts:

  • Literature: To boldly go wherever you want to (Using ‘boldly’ is a split infinitive)
  • Popular media: He wasn’t able to patiently wait. ( Using ‘patiently’ is to make it a split infinitive)

Appropriate Usage and Guidelines

You need to follow various guidelines to help you understand the uses of a split infinitive. These guidelines are:

  • You must understand where to split a sentence and add an extra adverb. Placing the word appropriately in between is very important.
  • Using split infinitives in formal writing is a bad style, so you must avoid it.
  • It will be appropriate for you to use a split infinitive in informal writing.
  • You need to read the sentence effectively, which will help you understand if it is awkward.

Modern English has become very flexible now as it embraces split infinitives. Previously it was considered an error, while presently, in the 21st century, it is good to use split infinitives. It is said that a split infinitive will help you to add more meaning to your sentence.

You cannot use a split infinitive in formal writing because it is a bad writing style. You especially have one element in formal writing, so avoiding using a split infinitive while writing formal letters or giving formal speeches is better.

list of adverbs for kids

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Key Takeaways

  1. It is appropriate now to use split infinitives.

  2. You can add more meaning to your sentence with split infinitives.

  3. You should avoid using a split infinitive in formal writing.

  4. It is appropriate to use split infinitives in informal writing.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do split infinitives affect the meaning of a sentence?

If you use a split infinitive properly, it will not affect the meaning of your sentence and will help you add more meaning and clarity. If you wrongly use a split infinitive and do not follow the guidelines, then it can change your meaning, and you will mess up your sentence.

Are split infinitives common in spoken English?

Split infinitives are rare in the English language presently. It was said that the split infinitives was an error, but presently, it is good to use them in your sentence.

What are the Rules for using Split Infinitives?

There are certain rules and guidelines that you are to follow while using a split infinitive. These are:

  • Understand the requirement and use the extra adverb.
  • Understand the meaning of the sentence.
  • Avoid the usage of a split infinitive in formal writing or formal speech.
  • You can use it specifically in informal writing.
Are Split Infinitives acceptable in modern English?

Yes, split infinitives are now acceptable in modern English. Previously it was considered that split infinitives are an error, and you cannot use it in your sentence. These split infinitives are acceptable now as they give your sentence more meaning and clarity. 

How can I avoid splitting infinitives in my writing?

You can easily avoid using a split infinitive in your writing by writing Simple sentences. You shall use the appropriate amount of adverbs required in a sentence and avoid adding any adverb to the sentence in between a simple infinitive.

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