By Connie S. Hall
Isn’t it fun when you can discover a myth? I’m going to share one with you today. Maybe you can let me in on some of the ones you know.
Some days the hardest thing to not write is a split infinitive. See I told you. I bet I could win a contest writing them. If you don’t know what it is, I’ll explain. It’s when a word or phrase comes between the word to and the verb. To fix it sounds simple, but I can tell you from experience it isn’t always easy.
Traditional grammar and the most formal grammar rules require that we not split infinitives.
This one rule has been the cause of much controversy, but saying they are ungrammatical is a myth. To avoid the split infinitive sometimes results in ruining the rhythmic pattern. It’s good to avoid them in formal writing, but to avoid them when writing a story simply by shuffling adverbs about can create far worse sentences, and often changes the entire meaning of the sentence. Splitting an infinitive is not a sin, but it’s nice to avoid. When it’s easy to fix, we should fix it, but there are times when we should let it go.
I was grateful to run across this piece of advice because I found myself toiling over one sentence, and juggling first one phrase of words then another. Sometimes nothing else works. As a writer, we sometimes need to decide if our sentence sounds best when split, and sounds awkward when it’s not. Many times as I'm typing away I write a split infinitive then realize how awkward it sounds and go back to change it. I’ve learned after a short time to move on. Sometimes it’s unavoidable.
Keep writing and don’t let those split infinitives discourage you.