How To Not Like Talk Or Like Write, Dude

Inattention to grammatical or structural details moves the workload of understanding
from the speaker to the listener, from the writer to the reader,
and guarantees boredom, resentment or misunderstanding.


Split Infinitives

How To Like A Programmer Or Scientist Talk


An infinitive is a single unit,
composed of the particle ‘to’ plus the present stem of the verb.
The Qualls Concise English Grammar §7.24

The fact is that, to those who are uninformed, unpracticed or disconcerted, split infinitives don’t matter—these individuals apparently haven’t had a chance to know any better, they are unimformed of their detrimental effects on communication, or they just don’t care.

Yet to those of us who do understand the problem, a split infinitive slams the door of perception, in what turn out to be flacid attempts at communication. The creator of a split infinitive comes across, suddenly and fatally, as one of those benighted, misguided, illogical or indolent; the message is garbled and ineffective, painful to many listeners/readers, and ultimately indicative of inept message-construction.

If you cannot structure your message logically, what makes you presume that we should expect you to have organized the thought behind that message logically?

Thus, if you want your message to be effective, never split an infinitive.

It is a matter of logic and efficiency:
Don’t split an infinitive. Ever.

Some may try to point to historical usage in literature of different periods to bolster their slap-dash use of split infinitives.

However, one must interrogate the three opera that are the best of Classical English prose. The first two—the King James translation of The Bible, and the 1559/1662 Book of Common Prayer—are completely free of split infinitives. The third opus is the works of Shakespeare, in which there are only two split infinitives: that single split infinitive within Shakespeare’s plays, in Coriolanus, appears to be a printer’s mistake (the play first appears in print only some five years after Shakespeare’s death), and the single split infinitive in his poetry was done to meet the specific requirements of rhyme within that one verse. Thus we can say that the Best of English is achieved without ever splitting infinitives!

However, the need to refrain from splitting infinitives is not a mere historical exercise. Neither is it simply a pedantic concern. Indeed, it is less about the infinitive alone than it involves, eviscerates, two parts of speech!

This problematic, grammatical condition is a misuse that diminishes clarity, impedes communication, and makes the issuer of it sound like that one, perpetually inept, boring professor whose class we had to struggle seemingly eternally not to sleep through!




+1 #1 Ryan Bissell 2013-09-22 00:49
Thank you, I aspire to never again split an infinitive!
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