It appears that very many writers, TV and radio presenters, and editors have forgotten that one easy way to determine the position in which adverbs should appear when they modify an infinitive (or, indeed, any other word or phrase) is to replace the single-word adverb temporarily with its matching adverbial prepositional phrase.

In regards to the example phrase, one would have, in the case of the split infinitive

To boldly speak  To with boldness speak

These phrases are garbage, on both sides of the arrow.

Placing the prepositional phrase correctly will reveal the logically and grammatically proper, and effective, placement required for that adverb. In this case it is in the position immediately following the infinitive:

To speak with boldness To speak boldly

 

The childish and horribly ineffective, counter-productive way in which programmers, scientists, teachers and professors—and particularly writers and broadcasters—have taken to killing their adverbs by ungrammatically (that is, illogically) throwing them, bound and gagged, between the twin rails of the English infinitive railway has rendered much of modern English painful to peruse, grating upon the ears, and oftentimes truly unparsable, unreadable.

This pernicious failure to teach clarity of expression by imparting the quite logical rules of English grammar is nowadays more common than syphilis.

Unfortunately, this type of adverbocide has also spread from careless writing and informal speech into radio, television and documentary, rendering so much media-programming at many times just as unlistenable, in the same way and degree that so much writing about computer programming is tediously imprecise, inefficient and ineffective. It is surprising to recognize that these poor communicators split infinitives not only with single adverbs, but seemingly take every opportunity to cram a complete adverbial phrase—or even compound or complex phrases—down the throat of the poor, abused infinitive.

To not like only, but like in all like everywhere like used situations speak and like well write … dude!

A split infinitive is illogical. It is an impediment to clear communication. When inflicted by professionals, it is a sign of accidental, or even pompous, illiteracy. When evinced by the untutored or unfamiliar, it most often comes from the bad, incidental influence of those who have been schooled, those who should know better. Like the splinter that slices between toe nail and toe, the splitter of an infinitive is painfully out of place.

 

Every time you split an infinitive, an adverb dies.
And the stench of that corpse then pervades your prose.

 

Don’t split infinitives. Ever!

 

Comments   

 
0 #1 Ryan Bissell 2013-09-22 00:49
Thank you, I aspire to never again split an infinitive!
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