split infinitive

split infinitive
noun Date: 1897 an infinitive with to having a modifier between the to and the verbal (as in “to really start”) Usage: The split infinitive was discovered and named in the 19th century. 19th century writers seem to have made greater use of this construction than earlier writers; the frequency of occurrence attracted the disapproving attention of grammarians, many of whom thought it to be a modern corruption. The construction had in fact been in occasional use since the 14th century; only its frequency had changed. Even though there has never been a rational basis for objecting to the split infinitive, the subject has become a fixture of folk belief about grammar. You can hardly publish a sentence containing one without hearing about it from somebody. Modern commentators know the split infinitive is not a vice, but they are loath to drop such a popular subject. They usually say it's all right to split an infinitive in the interest of clarity. Since clarity is the usual reason for splitting, this advice means merely that you can split them whenever you need to.

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • split infinitive — 1. A split infinitive occurs when a word (usually an adverb) or phrase comes between the particle to and the verb of a so called to infinitive (to really love / to really and truly love). No other grammatical issue has so divided English speakers …   Modern English usage

  • split infinitive — split′ infin′itive n. use gram. an expression in which there is a word or phrase, usu. an adverb or adverbial phrase, between to and its accompanying verb form in an infinitive, as in to readily understand[/ex] • Etymology: 1895–1900 usage: The… …   From formal English to slang

  • Split infinitive — (Gram.) A simple infinitive with to, having a modifier between the verb and the to; as in, to largely decrease. Called also {cleft infinitive}. Note: The use of the split infinitive is commonly considered to be ungrammatical, but by most… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • split infinitive — ► NOUN ▪ a construction consisting of an infinitive with an adverb or other word inserted between to and the verb, e.g. she seems to really like it. USAGE It is still widely held that splitting infinitives is wrong, a view based on an analogy… …   English terms dictionary

  • split infinitive — split infinitives N COUNT A split infinitive is a structure in which an adverb is put between to and the infinitive of a verb, as in to really experience it . Some people think it is incorrect to use split infinitives …   English dictionary

  • split infinitive — n. Gram. an infinitive with an adverb or other modifier placed between to and the verb form (Ex.: he decided to gradually change his methods): although some object to this construction, many writers use split infinitives where ambiguity or wrong… …   English World dictionary

  • Split infinitive — A split infinitive is an English language grammatical construction in which a word or phrase, usually an adverb or adverbial phrase, comes between the marker to and the bare infinitive (uninflected) form of a verb. For example, a split infinitive …   Wikipedia

  • split infinitive — Gram. an expression in which there is a word or phrase, esp. an adverb or adverbial phrase, between to and its accompanying verb form in an infinitive, as in to readily understand. [1895 1900] Usage. The rule against placing a word, especially an …   Universalium

  • split infinitive — noun an infinitive with an adverb between to and the verb (e.g., to boldly go ) • Hypernyms: ↑infinitive * * * noun, pl ⋯ tives [count] grammar : an English phrase in which an adverb or other word is placed between to and a verb “To really start” …   Useful english dictionary

  • split infinitive — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms split infinitive : singular split infinitive plural split infinitives linguistics an infinitive in which there is an adverb between the word to and the verb, as in the phrase to completely understand . Some… …   English dictionary

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