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*Asterisk = examples of errors or poor constructions*.

Student Learning: Grammar

Modifiers - Lesson four (Split infinitives)

The infinitive of a verb is 'to' + '[verb]'. For example: 'to read' is the infinitive of the verb 'read'. Some people believe that it is wrong to put anything between 'to' and the verb. They call this splitting the infinitive. Modern grammarians are comfortable with this, but there are times when it is better not to split your infinitive.

  1. 4.1 Splitting the infinitive with a modifying phrase:

    You should avoid splitting the infinitive with a modifying phrase or dependent clause.

*We decided to, after much deliberation, watch a play instead of going to the party.* (Note: Asterisks signal examples of poor constructions.)

*The students tried to at the conclusion of the tutorial agree to a time to meet.*

  1. 4.2 Splitting an infinitive with an adverb:

    A classic example is from the Star Trek series when Captain Kirk's voice can be heard saying "To boldly go where no man has gone before" - [to go] is the infinitive, and Kirk splits it with "boldly". It is now common and acceptable, but probably safest to avoid putting adverbs in the middle of your infinitive; at the very least you should be aware of this aspect of your writing and any of your split infinitives should be deliberate rather than accidental.

    Adverbs are words which describe how a verb action is performed and as such they have every right to be located adjacent to their verb. (Note: often adverbs end with ~ly.)

We eventually decided to watch the play and then go immediately to the party

The students tried to agree quickly on a time to meet.

Sometimes it is unavoidable without significantly mutating the sentence. Which of the following sentences do you think is best?

I want you to gently remove the cap to the primary and secondary water cooling reservoirs next to the inlet hose.

I want you to remove the cap to the primary and secondary water cooling reservoirs next to the inlet hose gently.

I want you gently to remove the cap to the primary and secondary water cooling reservoirs next to the inlet hose.

I want you to remove gently the cap to the primary and secondary water cooling reservoirs next to the inlet hose.

Split infinitives quiz not available yet.