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To boldly split infinitives is fine

Blog | By Harry Mount | Jun 21, 2020

A new study by Cambridge University Press and Lancaster University shows that we are splitting infinitives, in conversation, three times more than we did in the 1990s.

It's fine, of course, to break grammatical rules in speech. That's why it's called colloquial English. It's not so fine on the page.

But the split infinitive rule is no such thing. Pedants like to say that you shouldn't split infinitives in English because you can't split them in Latin, where infinitives are one word - like 'amare', 'to love'. I hate to break it to the pedants - but Latin is a different language from English. And different rules apply.

Unlike the Romans we can put words between the two bits of the infinitive - so why shouldn't we? Also, I've always thought 'To boldly go where no man has gone before' sounds much better than 'To go boldly'.

HARRY MOUNT, @mounth