This is a split infinitive:To boldly go where no man has gone before!The infinitive is to go, and it has been 'split' by the adverb boldly. Split infinitives have been the cause of much controversy among teachers and grammarians, but the notion that they are ungrammatical is simply a myth: in his famous book Modern English Usage, Henry Fowler listed them among 'superstitions'! Split infinitives are frequently poor style, but they are not strictly bad grammar.In the example above, to avoid the split infinitive would result either in weakness (to go boldly) or over-formality (boldly to go): either would ruin the rhythmic force and rhetorical pattern of the original. It is probably good practice to avoid split infinitives in formal writing, but clumsy attempts to avoid them simply by shuffling adverbs about can create far worse sentences.
Sunday, 11 January 2009
There has never been any argument in our household over the subject of the split infinitive and the need at all cost to one's grammatical reputation to avoid so doing. One of the things about blogging with pedants for friends is that one is constantly aware of the need for observing the rules at least to a respectable degree. A while ago I was chatting to Wendy over something or other unrelated to the split infinitive when the topic arose. Now Wendy is a child of the sixties and split infinitives have not featured highly in her (considerable - a lawyer with a degree in Social Science) education. After having explained the 'rule' the matter rested. Until a few days ago when I was handed a piece of paper duly exploding the 'superstition' of the split infinitive.
The following is from the Oxford Dictionaries website:
Oh dear Scriptor Senex. Oh dear Marcel. Oh dear John Allison. Oh dear...... there are so many of us out there. It does look as though we have been mistaken. Unless anyone knows something to the contrary................