Saturday, April 19, 2014

An Easter gift for writers

Ana has an Easter gift for all writers:

It is not bad grammar to split infinitives!
Don't believe me?
The grammar girl says so at
She references wikipedia

I am relieved! I have struggled for several years to retrain my brain and my ear to hate split infinitives, and I still stumble when I read un-split infinitive phrases like, "She decided not to go."

When speaking, "Decide to not go," sounds better to me, probably because when I say it, I emphasize 'not' for clarity.

The fact that the rule against splitting infinitives is imaginary doesn't mean it is a good idea to do it in our writing, though. It invites nasty comments from misguided, but well-intentioned critiquers.

Star Trek stood up to be counted when each episode opened with, "To boldly go where no one has gone before."

It's good to know I am grammatically correct when say to my significant other, "Well, the next time you want to accidently forget to take out the trash..."


  1. It may be acceptable, but you will never catch me doing it! Split infinitives make me cringe (as I did at the start of every Star Trek episode!). I don't even use split infinitives when I'm speaking - I'd always say 'I decided not to go' rather than 'I decided to not go'! It seems to be ingrained in me not to split my infinitives (see, I didn't split one in that sentence either!)

  2. Was this what you heard spoken around you when you were growing up, Paula?
    I heard split infinitives.

    1. My main recollection is my English teacher saying you should never ever split an infinitive - and whatever she said, you obeyed!
      I don't actually recall hearing split infinitives either, so maybe it's more American than British (or was, as you see them more these days)

  3. I tend to like to follow (smile) grammar rules as much as possible (not that I don't make them, just that I try not to make them in the first place). I'm less stringent about the "made up" rules for romance writers that were created by publishers. Those are the rules I'll follow, but will acknowledge that they're okay to break. And speaking is very different from writing. Speaking is more colloquial and reflects where you're from, you're upbringing, etc. Writing is more formal. Sorry, but "decided to not go" sounds wrong to me.

  4. I agree that speech and dialogue need to sound different than formal, written work.

    I'm enjoying these different posts in the last week about writing 'rules'. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on when/how it's okay to follow or ignore them. And I think that's part of what makes a writer's voice unique.