Why you should Ignore split infinitives when writing fiction

Let me qualify the headline by stating one should forget good grammar as much as possible. Consider split infinitives. A split infinitive is when an adverb is placed between to and a verb. There are grammarians who are uncompromising about split infinitives, rigorously maintaining it is a valid rule, but these grammarians are anal control freaks and no doubt Nazis sympathizers.

Using an example from the Oxford Dictionary, here is a split infinitive: “She used to secretly admire him.” The correct sentence according to the anal impaired is: “She used secretly to admire him.” To my ears the supposedly correct sentence sounds awkward.

The split infinitive rule came about because of the sentence structure of Latin. But adhering to the rule does not always make the sentence clear. Besides people have been talking in split infinitives for centuries and Latin is a dead language. Caesar is dead; so is Nero, Caligula, and all the gladiators. The Roman Empire died when their infinitives were split asunder by the Barbarians who invaded and overtook Rome. They did not like, nor did they speak, Latin, but they knew split infinitives and they said, the hell with those things, we can’t figure it out. And Latin died. But like Freddie Krueger, the split infinitive came back, though just like sequels, not as strong.

The best thing to do is just rewrite the sentence. In the above example one could write:”Once, she secretly admired him.” Or, “She secretly admired him at one time, but then she discovered a Nazi flag in his closet and when she asked him about the flag, he said it was a souvenir his dad brought back from the war, and that he was not a Nazi, but a reincarnated Roman Centurion who speaks Latin.

She dumped him like a split infinitive drenched in Caligula’s urine.

I know grammar is important, but as long as writing is clear, concise, and flows word to word, sentence to sentence, with grace and ease, you should be fine.

My website: http://terrynelson.net/

My Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38


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