To boldly go?
The most famous split infinitive ever was in the opening titles of Star Trek, where we hear the famous voice say "To boldly go where no man has gone before". This is a split infinitive and it is deemed to be grammatically incorrect.
I found out recently that although a great many people know that split infinitives are bad, but don't know what they are, so we'll start with a definition. The infinitive of a verb is the form "to do something" such as "to work", "to sleep", "to eat" and is often found after expressions of want, need, desire and so forth. "I need to eat". "I want to sleep". A split infinitive is one where a word or phrase comes between the "to" and the verb. "To boldly go". "To really mean". The suggestion that they are incorrect is possibly as a reult of influences from other languages. In Latin, it's one word: "to love" is "amare", "to sing" is "cantare". Similarly, in French we have "aimer" and "chanter". You can't split it if it's only one word.
Why raise it now? Well, I have before me a copy of this week's newsletter from our church.
The purpose of Vestry is "to, under the leadership of the co-vicars, have responsibility for the total life, ministry, fabric, administration and finances of the Parish".
I have no problems with this definition except for the split infinitive. However, this poses the next question: How do we repair split infinitives? It's very easy. In the above case, we change to the following:
The purpose of Vestry is "under the leadership of the co-vicars, to have responsibility for..."
We can cure the earlier examples in a similar way. To go boldly... Really to mean...
If all else fails, consider a penalty system similar to the one used by some of my friends who were flatting. Instead of a swear box, they had a "really" box where each use of "really" as an emphatic adverb ("really large", "really stupid", "really interesting") incurred a financial penalty. So did split infinitives. But the largest penalty came from infinitives split by "really".
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