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Note 25 – Split infinitives

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link –  If you would prefer to dive straight into note 25, then please read on…

Split infinitives

To recap on yesterday’s blog, ‘Note 24 – The infinitive of verbs’, I explained that the infinitive is not only written as two words ‘to’ plus the ‘verb stem’ e.g. I love to laugh, but can also be written without the word ‘to’ e.g I must laughToday I’m going to blog about split infinitives where one word comes between the ‘to’ and the ‘verb stem’ e.g. to really laugh.

According to John Seely in the Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, “there is no grammatical justification for this so-called rule and people have been splitting infinitives for centuries”.


Please consider the following where (a) shows a split infinitive in every example and (b) doesn’t:

1a. To really laugh every day

1b. To laugh really every day

2a. To loudly sing the nursery rhyme

2b. To sing loudly the nursery rhyme

3a. To carefully dance the waltz

3b. To dance carefully the waltz

4a. To neatly write the text

4b. To write neatly the text

My opinion: For each example above, the sentence reads better with the split infinitive. 

Why teachers and traditionalists think split infinitives are bad grammar

Although there are occassions in English where the writer chooses to split the infinitive, it is not accepted by some teachers.  The main reason for this is because the English language is alone in splitting infinitives.  In The Pocket Writer’s Handbook, Martin Mander & Stephen Curtis explain that “in Latin and modern european languages the infinitive is respresented by a single word”.  The example they give is ‘canere’ which is the Latin verb for ‘to sing’.  It is therefore impossible to split the infinitive in Latin.

My thoughts:  I understand a lot more about how infinitives and split infinitives work now and will probably use split infinitives with caution (not too often and only when it makes sense to do so).  Being so aware of them, I found myself using them when speaking today and instantly picked myself up on it. 

I have to sign off now to prepare myself for my ‘train the trainer’ course assessment which I have in the morning.

Until tomorrow…


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Twitter: @madeirasandra  and  @tipsandluxuries

Reference list

John Seely  The Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, USA

The Pocket Writer’s Handbook by Martin Mander & Stephen Curtis Mander and Curtis (Penguin Reference Library)


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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