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Infinitives

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By JUNE CASAGRANDE | August 9, 2006
First you learn to crawl, then you learn to walk, then you learn to run (then you learn to drive five miles to the place where you like to walk or run). The same process applies to learning about split infinitives, with just as much crashing into walls and falling on your butt. First you learn that you've been doing something wrong, then you learn that it wasn't wrong in the first place, then you learn that your initial grasp of why it's not wrong was in fact wrong. For those of you on deadline for your blogs or eager to turn to the horoscopes, here's the must-know stuff about the dreaded split infinitive: Don't worry about it. Ninety-nine out of 100 language authorities agree there's nothing wrong with it. So if your energy for learning grammar is limited, this one does not belong on your priority list.
NEWS
June 15, 2005
JUNE CASAGRANDE Somewhere out there, a group of misled but well-meaning grammar prophets is spreading a sort of false gospel. They warn people against the horrors of ending sentences with prepositions. They predict gloom and doom for anyone who dares to begin a sentence with "and," "but," "so" or "because." To hear them talk, you'd think splitting an infinitive is as dangerous as splitting an atom. They all mean well -- really they do. But they're unintentionally doing harm, punishing people for trying to play by the rules.
NEWS
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | June 10, 2009
A few weeks ago, I wrote in this space: ?The key to avoiding the frightening-sounding problem known as the ?dangling participle? is to not be frightened.? Soon after, I got this e-mail from a reader named Barbara: ?June, as a former English teacher, I noticed your split infinitive in your first paragraph. I?m sure it was just a simple error, but it is one that irritates me. I hope you don?t mind.? Barbara was referring to the phrase ?to not be,? which places ?not? right between the ?
NEWS
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | January 10, 2007
As Americans, we love it when our choices come down to absolute extremes: black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. If we could, we'd categorize everything in terms of dog people vs. cat people, liberal vs. conservative, Rosie vs. Donald. I used to shun such distinctions, especially the idea that the population can be divided into cat people and dog people. Then I got four cats. Now I can say with 100% certainty that I'm a dog person. (Cat people are out of their minds. Take it from one who wakes up most mornings at 6 a.m. with razor-sharp claws kneading her collar bone amid a cloud of wicked tuna breath.
NEWS
March 9, 2001
Amber Willard GLENDALE -- These teens know split infinitives. They know psychology, art history, math and science too. And come Monday, they'll know who knows the most. Four-person teams from four local high schools are meeting up Monday for the annual Scholastic Bowl in which the students, as well as one alternate, are tested on a range of subjects. For the first phase of the competition, each team member wrote an essay earlier this week about whether they believe minors should be tried as adults.
NEWS
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | April 12, 2006
I try to avoid grammar jargon in this column. And, as you might guess, one of three possible explanations applies. Either 1. I'm too modest to flaunt my dazzling expertise; 2. I don't want to turn off readers with a lot of mumbo jumbo; or, 3. I don't know anywhere near as much about this stuff as I should and I'd rather not call attention to this fact. Take your pick. But sometimes knowing a little jargon is actually helpful. For example, consider the word "walking" in the sentence, "Walking is great exercise."
FEATURES
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | December 7, 2005
How many errors can you find in the following sentence? "Hopefully, by eating a healthy breakfast, you're able to happily avoid newish diet trends that can make you nauseous (or that make me nauseous, anyways) and are bad foods to start your day with." Between the split infinitives, the questionable word choices, the word not found in the dictionary and the preposition at the end of the sentence, your total should come to exactly zero. That's right, awful as that sentence is, technically it contains not a single error.
NEWS
By: JUNE CASAGRANDE | September 11, 2005
English is a cruel language. Hyphenation rules mean that a water-skier water-skis on water skis. The short version of "until" is not "'til" but the bizarrely spelled and unpunctuated "till." And try explaining to any poor soul struggling to learn English the logic behind the pronunciation of "through," "though" and "throw." But such random acts of cruelty don't mean that the whole system is viciously, homicidally, reality-TV-caliber cruel. Sometimes English can be forgiving, and that's when it's really cruel.
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NEWS
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | June 10, 2009
A few weeks ago, I wrote in this space: ?The key to avoiding the frightening-sounding problem known as the ?dangling participle? is to not be frightened.? Soon after, I got this e-mail from a reader named Barbara: ?June, as a former English teacher, I noticed your split infinitive in your first paragraph. I?m sure it was just a simple error, but it is one that irritates me. I hope you don?t mind.? Barbara was referring to the phrase ?to not be,? which places ?not? right between the ?
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NEWS
By JUNE CASAGRANDE | April 16, 2008
First you learn to crawl, then you learn to walk, then you learn to run (then you learn to drive five miles to the place where you like to walk or run). The same process applies to learning about split infinitives, with just as much crashing into walls and falling on your butt. First you learn that you've been doing something wrong, then you learn that it wasn't wrong in the first place, then you learn that your initial grasp of why it's not wrong was in fact wrong. For those of you on deadline for your blogs or eager to turn to the horoscopes, here's the must-know stuff about the dreaded split infinitive: Don't worry about it. Ninety-nine out of 100 language authorities agree there's nothing wrong with it. So if your energy for learning grammar is limited, this one does not belong on your priority list.
NEWS
June 15, 2005
JUNE CASAGRANDE Somewhere out there, a group of misled but well-meaning grammar prophets is spreading a sort of false gospel. They warn people against the horrors of ending sentences with prepositions. They predict gloom and doom for anyone who dares to begin a sentence with "and," "but," "so" or "because." To hear them talk, you'd think splitting an infinitive is as dangerous as splitting an atom. They all mean well -- really they do. But they're unintentionally doing harm, punishing people for trying to play by the rules.
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