split infinitive(Usage Disputes)
Sir Ernest Gowers wrote in _The Complete Plain Words_ (HMSO, 1954): "The well-known [...] rule against splitting an infinitive means that nothing must come between 'to' and the infinitive. It is a bad name, as was pointed out by Jespersen [...] 'because we have many infinitives without _to_, as "I made him go". _To_ therefore is no more an essential part of the infinitive than the definite article is an essential part of a substantive, and no one would think of calling _the good man_ a split substantive.' It is a bad rule too; it increases the difficulty of writing clearly [...]." The split infinitive construction goes back to the 13th century, but was relatively rare until the 19th. No split infinitives are to be found in the works of Shakespeare, Spenser, Pope, or Dryden, or in the King James Version of the Bible. Fowler wrote (in the article POSITION OF ADVERBS, in MEU) that "to" + infinitive is "a definitely enough recognized verb-form to make the clinging together of its parts the natural and normal thing"; "there is, however, no sacrosanctity about that arrangement". There are many considerations that should govern placement of adverbs: there are other sentence elements, he said, such as the verb and its object, that have a *stronger* affinity for each other; but only avoidance of the split infinitive "has become a fetish". Thus, although in "I quickly hid it", the most natural place for "quickly" is before "hid", "I am going to hide it quickly" is slightly more natural than "I am going to quickly hide it". But "I am going to quickly hide it" is itself preferable to "I am going quickly to hide it" (splitting "going to" changes the meaning from indicating futurity to meaning physically moving somewhere), or to "I am going to hide quickly it" (separation of the verb from its object). And even separating the verb from its object may become the preferred place for the adverb if "it" is replaced by a long noun phrase ("I am going to hide quickly any trace of our ever having been here"). Phrases consisting of "to be" or "to have" followed by an adverb and a participle are *not* split infinitives, and constitute the natural word order. "To generally be accepted" and "to always have thought" are split infinitives; "to be generally accepted" and "to have always thought" are not. Certain kinds of adverbs are characteristically placed before "to". These include negative and restrictive adverbs: "not" ("To be, or not to be"), "never", "hardly", "scarcely", "merely", "just"; and conjunctive adverbs: "rather", "preferably", "moreover", "alternatively". But placing adverbs of manner in this position is now considered good style only in legal English ("It is his duty faithfully to execute the provisions..."). Clumsy avoidance of split infinitives often leads to ambiguity: does "You fail completely to recognise" mean "You completely fail to recognise", or "You fail to completely recognise"? Ambiguous split infinitives are much rarer, but do exist: does "to further cement trade relations" mean "to cement trade relations further", or "to promote relations with the cement trade"? The most frequently cited split infinitive is from the opening voice-over of _Star Trek_: "to boldly go where no man has gone before". (_Star Trek: The Next Generation_ had "one" in place of "man".) Here, "boldly" modifies the entire verb phrase: the meaning is "to have the boldness that the unprecedentedness of the destinations requires". If "boldly" were placed after "go", it would modify only "go", changing the meaning to "to go where no man has gone before, and by the way, to go there boldly". Hardly any serious commentator believes that infinitives should never be split. The dispute is between those who believe that split infinitives should be avoided when this can be done with no sacrifice of clarity or naturalness, and those who believe that no effort whatever should be made to avoid them.
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