Long before “Star Trek,” and especially in the 1950s, people were cautioning against the split infinitive. It was, perhaps, the most famous grammar no-no of all time. And its fame lives on. There’s just one problem. It’s not true.
A lot of people don’t believe me when I say there’s no rule against splitting infinitives — as well they shouldn’t. I don’t have the authority to make that call. That’s why I go straight to the sources — lots of them. And the most respected authorities in the English language are unanimous:
“No absolute taboo should be placed on the use of simple adverbs between the particle ‘to’ and the verbal part of the infinitive,” writes “Fowler’s Modern English Usage.”
“Some infinitives seem to improve on being split, just as a stick of round stovewood does. ‘I cannot bring myself to really like the fellow,’” argues Strunk and White’s “The Elements of Style.”
The idea that you should never split an infinitive is “superstition,” says “Garner’s Modern English Usage.”
“Adverbs sometimes justifiably separate the ‘to’ from the principal verb: ‘they expect to more than double their income next year,’” says the “Chicago Manual of Style.”
“There is nothing wrong with splitting an infinitive, except that eighteenth- and nineteenth-century grammarians, for one reason or another, frowned on it,” writes Theodore M. Bernstein in “The Careful Writer.”
“No more than we should go out of our way to split infinitives should we go out of our way not to if splitting the infinitive will yield a clearer or more natural result,” writes Atlantic Monthly editor and “Word Court” columnist Barbara Wallraff.
“Infinitives: Split away!” writes Bill Walsh, copy desk chief of the Washington Post’s Business Desk.