split infinitive

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  • [T]o boldly go where no man has gone before.” — Star Trek (1966).

split infinitive (plural split infinitives)

  1. (grammar) An infinitive with one or more modifiers inserted between the to and the verb.
    • 1982 April 4, Nick Clarke, quoting Alistair Cooke, “Keeping in Touch”, in Alistair Cooke: A Biography, 1st U.S. edition, New York, N.Y.: Arcade Publishing, published 2000, →ISBN, page 487:
      Yeah, Ronnie! (or, the Split Infinitive of the Year, possibly the Century) – on being asked if the New York Times report was true that the 1983 deficit will be $124 billion, rather than the $91.5 billion in the Reagan budget … A: 'I couldn't answer until we have to, by law, shortly, in a couple of weeks, present an updated project.'
    • 1994, Patricia Nelson Limerick, “The Adventures of the Frontier in the Twentieth Century”, in James R. Grossman, editor, The Frontier in American Culture: An Exhibition at the Newberry Library, August 26, 1994 – January 7, 1995, Berkeley; Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, →ISBN, page 89:
      The split infinitive was regrettable, but the writers of Star Trek came up with the phrase to capture the essential idea brought to mind at the mention of the words "frontier" and "pioneer": "to boldly go where no man has gone before."
    • 2001, R[obert] L[awrence] Trask, “Introduction”, in Mind the Gaffe: The Penguin Guide to Common Errors in English (Penguin Reference Books), London: Penguin Books, →ISBN, page 17:
      Such fetishes as insisting on It's I, not ending sentences with prepositions, and avoiding split infinitives are all dismissed as the nonsense they are.


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