Split Infinitives

To Split Infinitives

Split Infinitives

“Hey, James, Mr. Pomeroy is wrong about splitting infinitives! To occasionally split an infinitive is fine. Captain Kirk splits an infinitive when he states the mission of the Starship Enterprise at the beginning of each Star Trek episode.

“You’re talking about ‘to boldly go where no man has gone before’ where ‘boldly’ is placed between the two words of the infinitive, to go. That’s not Captain Kirk’s only grammatical mistake. Saying ‘man’ excludes both women and alien beings. He also ends the sentence with a preposition: ‘before.’ We should report him to Star Fleet Command.”

Definition and Examples

An infinitive usually consists of to plus the base form of the verb. Examples: to run, to hide

This infinitive form does not indicate past, present, or future verb tense and does not connect to the subject of the sentence. Example: Joseph liked to go to the mall. “Joseph” is the subject and “liked” is the predicate. The infinitive “to go” serves as a modifier of the verb, “liked,” but does not signal past, present, or future action.

A split infinitive occurs when the speaker or writer inserts one or more words between the to and the base form of the verb. Examples: To never walk is his goal. She wants to someday soon ski.

Read the rules.

  • Splitting infinitives is fine in casual conversation and in informal writing; however, avoid adding more than one word between the to and the base form of the verb.
  • Avoid using split infinitives in formal writing, such as in essays.

Practice

Write the following sentences and [bracket] the split infinitives in the following sentences.

  1. To seriously ask the question of the comic was his choice, alone.
  2. Zoe wished to always be considered the expert, and she hoped to soon achieve her goal.
  3. Why do you need to completely and totally abandon the plan to somehow defend your honor?
  4. I did not expect to have to willingly go when I would have rather stayed at home.
  5. Listening to music makes me happy to be alive and to often visit my friends.

Revise the split infinitive.

It is a mistake to ever split an infinitive.

Answers

  1. [To seriously ask] the question of the comic was his choice, alone.
  2. Zoe wished [to always be] considered the expert, and she hoped [to soon achieve] her goal.
  3. Why do you need [to completely and totally abandon] the plan [to somehow defend] your honor?
  4. I did not expect to have [to willingly go] when I would have rather stayed at home.
  5. Listening to music makes me happy to be alive and [to often visit my friends].

Pennington Publishing's Teaching Essay Strategies

Teaching Essay Strategies

For more essay rules and practice, check out the author’s Teaching Essay Strategies. This curriculum includes 42 essay strategy worksheets corresponding to teach the Common Core State Writing Standards, 8 on-demand writing fluencies, 8 writing process essays (4 argumentative and 4 informative/explanatory), 64  sentence revision and 64 rhetorical stance “openers,” writing posters, and helpful editing resources. 

Differentiate your essay instruction in this comprehensive writing curriculum with remedial writing worksheets, including sentence structure, grammar, thesis statements, errors in reasoning, and transitions.

Plus, get an e-comment bank of 438 prescriptive writing responses with an link to insert into Microsoft Word® for easy e-grading (works great with Google Docs),

Download the following 24 FREE Writing Style Posters to help your students learn the essay rules. Each has a funny or ironic statement (akin to “Let’s eat Grandma) to teach the memorable rule. 

Get the Writing Style Posters FREE Resource:

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