Is it OK to split an infinitive?

Posted on 18 March 2014 by Lucy Gregory

 

What is a split infinitive?

The ‘infinitive’ is the basic form of the verb: ‘live’, ‘laugh’, ‘learn’.

Sometimes, the infinitive verb is coupled with the word ‘to’: ‘to live’, ‘to laugh’, ‘to learn’.

‘Splitting an infinitive’ is placing a word between ‘to’ and the infinitive verb: ‘to freely live’, ‘to loudly laugh’, ‘to eagerly learn’.
 

Can you do it?

There’s nothing grammatically wrong with a split infinitive. For some reason, though, it’s been taboo for a long time. So although the world certainly won’t end, a few people might get very upset.

As such, I recommend avoiding a split infinitive where possible. In many instances, you’ll be able to rearrange the sentence without affecting the meaning. However, clarity and smooth writing must take priority. If that means splitting an infinitive, so be it.

There’s a super example of split infinitives on the Attica website. In my view, this sentence would sound peculiar if the words were rearranged (although we welcome your rewrite suggestions):

Every good business writer has three core skills: to think clearly, to accurately translate those thoughts into words and to effectively present those words to the reader.