Sunday, August 18, 2013

Splitting Infinitives

Have you had a grammar lesson lately?

I was doing a little reading this morning and discovered I have a bad habit. I like to split infinitives. What it that? Infinitives are words starting with to, for example-. To go, to run, to walk. When you split them, you generally add an adverb between the to and the word-to boldly go, to quickly run, to slowly walk. The most famous one comes from Star Trek, To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before.

Over time, the rules bend and change about grammar. Originally, English rules were taken from those of Latin. And since an infinitive was not split in Latin, it was carried over into English. That was then, and this is now. To see an infinitive split in writing and not be edited out shows evolution of the English language. We are more accepting of how we use our language.

I'm not an expert on grammar. I don't have a degree in English, nor do I pretend to have some extensive research done on the subject. But I spend a portion of each day as most of you do, hammering out those sentences that create our stories. This counts for something, I hope. And my belief is that we need to create the most exciting, emotional experience for our readers that we can. And if it means to split a few infinitives along the way, I only hope they don't get eliminated when they reach the editor's pen.


  1. I don't know all the rules either but some of them have to be broken especially in dialogue or it doesn't sound natural.

    1. Because our language is constantly changing, we need to write to keep up with it. And make new rules? Or none at all?

  2. I was going to make a statement similar to Susan's about how it just doesn't sound correct to our ears when we follow all the rules, especially in dialogue. The other thing is that creative writing has a whole other set of rules and how we as writers are here to entertain the masses, so we do what is necessary to meet that goal. If we have to do other things that violate the grammar rules, then so be it. Not that I would do too much violating since my medical background really plays a part in my writing; this is really prevelant when I type out my contracted words (do not instead of don't, et cetera) - and my editors hate it for me - lol. It's just been ingrained in my head for eons that we do not use contractions or abbreviations in certain things with my job and it keeps following me in my writing. Habits are hard to break, especially when you have doing the same thing for over 25 years. So, if you need to split an infinitive, then so be it. Write on - lol - E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of FINALLY HOME, a Kelly Watson paranormal YA mystery
    THE TIES OF TIME, a Kelly Watson paranormal YA mystery

    1. Very good points. We need to grow as our language grows.