Posted by John Lambert on January 11, 2010 at 23:17:40 user John.
In Reply to: Re: Grammar (was Ages in GN) posted by David Bamford on January 10, 2010 at 22:01:51:
Well, here goes. If people talk about a verb, they usually refer to it as to run, or to think, etc. This is called the infinitive form. Think of it as the verb before you put it to work in a sentence. The word to and the verb itself both form the infinitive. Now, some people have the habit of inserting an extra word between to and the verb, hence to quickly run or I told him to not go. Why not say To run quickly or I told him not to go? Why they separate to from the verb (split the infinitive) into two parts, I don't know, But English, like all living languages is changing, and split infinitives are becoming more and more common, even in formal writing. So why bother about split infinitives at all? If the meaning is clear, what's the problem? It could be a class thing. People who avoid the s.i. might be better educated than people who use them, so it could be regarded (spot the passive voice here?)as a means to perpetuate the class struggle, etc. etc. To someone who has wrestled with English grammar, however, and who knows how to use it to make his sentences clear (such as AR himself), it's the equivalent of stumbling over a stone on a leisurely stroll through the park. It's the acid test for a good writer. If he splits his infinitives, he will probably dangle his modifiers and other horrors.
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