Advanced Vocabulary List 25

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Advanced Vocabulary List 25 - Split Infinitives (from

A split infinitive is a grammatical construction in the English language where a word or phrase, usually an adverb or adverbial phrase, occurs between the marker to and the bare infinitive (uninflected) form of the verb. The construction is particularly notable because of some controversy as to whether it is "grammatically correct".

One famous example is from the television series Star Trek: "to boldly go where no man has gone before." Here, the presence of the adverb boldly between the parts of the infinitive, to and go , creates a split infinitive. The construction can often be avoided by placing the intervening words after the verb or before the to marker: "to go boldly where no man has gone before" or "boldly to go where no man has gone before." However, these two rephrasings do not have identical meanings - the former attaches the boldness to the manner of going, while the latter attaches the boldness to the complete act of going "where no man has gone before."

Descriptively speaking, split infinitives are common in most varieties of English. However, their status as part of the standard language is controversial. In the 19th century, some grammatical authorities sought to introduce a prescriptive rule that split infinitives should not be used in English. Most experts on language from the last 100 years, however, agree that this rule was misguided, and indeed that the split infinitive construction can sometimes help to convey one's intended meaning more accurately (as in the case of "to boldly go").

Vocabulary List

construction construction
(noun) (in linguistics and grammar) the arrangement of words according to structural rules
convey convey
(verb) to communicate ideas or information or to make them known
descriptive descriptive
(adjective) serving to describe (without making judgment) (used as an adverb in the above passage)
indeed indeed
(adverb) without a doubt, in fact (used to confirm something already suggested or stated)
intervene intervene
(verb) to come between two things
misguided misguided
(adjective) misled or based on bad judgment
notable notable
(adjective) remarkable or worthy of attention or notice
prescriptive prescriptive
(adjective) (in linguistics and grammar) indicating how things should be rather than how things are

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article"Split Infinitive."


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