In their infinite wisdom, the curators are about to close it. Putting "not" in front of "to" is simply a way of avoiding splitting the infinitive. Some people—grammarians and English teachers, for example—say that "to" must always be next to the verb it goes with, and words like "not" should not split it from the verb. The split infinitive is preferable as it makes the meaning clearer and also lays emphasis on not. Examples are “to talk,” “to eat,” “to be,” “to see,” etc. Split infinitive definition: A split infinitive is a structure in which an adverb is put between 'to' and the... | Meaning, … However, in speech, informal writing, and even in formal writing, infinitive forms of verbs are often split, and they are split by more adverbs than just "not." Alien: Covenant 75. Blast the complexities of grammar! It’s generally taught in schools and many grammar nazis uphold it with unswerving fervor. Many scholars, including Alford and the Fowler brothers, agree that it’s not always appropriate to split an infinitive. In traditional English grammar, the bare infinitive (e.g. For example, to run, to think, to magine, etc. What Is a Split Infinitive? So I would say that "to not care" is no more grammatical than its ordinary negation "not to not care", e.g. So "I try not to care" would be normal, but "I try to not care" would be spoken with an emphasis on the "not", and would suggest that I am trying very hard to do something specific "not caring" instead of caring. It only takes a minute to sign up. site design / logo © 2020 Stack Exchange Inc; user contributions licensed under cc by-sa. rev 2020.12.18.38240, The best answers are voted up and rise to the top, English Language & Usage Stack Exchange works best with JavaScript enabled, Start here for a quick overview of the site, Detailed answers to any questions you might have, Discuss the workings and policies of this site, Learn more about Stack Overflow the company, Learn more about hiring developers or posting ads with us. In Latin, the infinitive is a single word (“to be” = “esse”; “to take” “capere”) and is thus impossible to split; it is therefore bad form to split an infinitive — when you are translating from Latin to English.. There is already a good answer to an earlier question (to which I linked in my previous comment). How important are undergraduate and masters studies transcripts in applying for a faculty position? In some other cases, the placement of the adverb actually affects the meaning. However, in speech, informal writing, and even in formal writing, infinitive forms of verbs are often split, and they are split by more adverbs than just "not." Growing up, I also had many teachers who taught me not to split infinitives—just as they taught me not to start a sentence with a conjunction. Nowadays, however, most linguists and grammarians accept that users of English do habitually split infinitives and therefore it is not wrong to do so. I prefer knowing. It looks much more good grammatically than to say. Anyway, in English the … To Split or Not to Split? So when might one want to say to not ? Unless you have evidence predating the 1834, I would recommend removing the accusations because there is no hard evidence to support them. This sort of rule is commonly stated. The tactic may work well in creative writing and poetry, but it’s sometimes awkward to encounter split infinitives in academic or professional writing. Join us for Winter Bash 2020. When you say, "My goal was not to do X," was you goal to ensure that you not do X ("I tried not to do X"), or was doing X just not a goal ("My goal was not to do X but to do Y")? Why do (some) dictator colonels not appoint themselves general? That is, asking how to avoid doing the stated action. Shot Caller 70. The most famous example is Star Trek’s “to boldly go where no one has gone before”. Even if ambiguity does arise, my statement is that you can go right ahead and say "I tried to not do that" if you and your audience are fine with it (or maybe even if your audience isn't fine with it but you choose to ;). When you say, "My goal was to do X," it's clear what that you had a goal and that it was to do X. go) is extended by the particle to in order to produce the to-infinitive phrase (sometimes termed a full infinitive), to go. It also makes me wonder if the rule of "no double negatives" is grammatically absolute. Why do people still live on earthlike planets? @lly: "... to boldly split infinitives no man had split before ..." [Douglas Adams, I think]. @WS2: Ah, that's a different matter. Below are some examples with "to" next to its verb, and some examples of split infinitives. Split infinitive definition, an expression in which there is a word or phrase, especially an adverb or adverbial phrase, between to and its accompanying verb form in an infinitive, as in to readily understand. This comes largely as a result of the change from the strict prescriptive approach to grammar (rules determine usage) to an attitude that, to some extent at least, says … Does it make a difference? The OP does not seem to qualify. For example, consider the phrase “ to promote exercise vigorously ” (Iverson et al., 1998). So it's clear that the not to form is far more common. In the English language, a split infinitive or cleft infinitive is a grammatical construction in which a word or phrase is placed between the particle to and the infinitive that comprise a to-infinitive. When do you split an infinitive? When only , just , and the like split the infinitive For clarity, adverbs like only ( Extra: Where to place only in a sentence ) and just are generally placed right beside the verbs they modify. The normal form of a negative infinitive is "not to X", in all contexts. They wrote, “The 'split' infinitive has taken such hold upon the consciences of journalists that, instead of warning the novice against splitting his infinitives, we must warn him against the curious superstition that the splitting or not splitting makes the difference between a good and a bad writer." There's nothing contrived about splitting infinitives. It was never used until the 19th century, when Fanny Burney wrote her whole lot of books where she always split her infinitives. Generally, a split infinitive is fine to use if it makes a sentence more clear. "I try not to not care" for "I try not to be uncaring. They would rewrite these sentences as: She used secretly to admire him. "I tried not to do that" is very unlikely to be interpreted as "I didn't try to do that", because in modern English we don't say "I tried not" to negate "I tried". Some people will tell you that you should say "I tried not to do that.". The Chicago Manual of Style refers to split infinitives as shibboleths. When this happens, as in " to not run," it is called a split infinitive. They can only tolerate high quality questions and answers on this board. Darkest Hour 72. Sometimes a split infinitive helps to make the meaning of a sentence clear. Even though English teachers will say you should not split an infinitive, native English speakers have been doing it for hundreds of years. ... take this approach? To Split or Not To Split. An infinitive is a verb in its simplest form coupled with the word to. An infinitive is the uninflected form of a verb along with to —for example, to walk, to inflect, to split. When has hydrogen peroxide been used in rocketry? A split infinitive is when other words creep into the middle of an English infinitive. It sounds like the speaker of "to not X" is trying to create a new verb "not X" and construe it as a specific verb in a positive sense, which I do not believe is quite correct. I've seen four possibilities. If splitting infinitives doesn’t sound awkward and delivers the thought, I urge all to boldly split where grammarians have not gone before. It’s a pretty archaic rule. We answer the most asked questions regarding split infinitives. I think it's well known that any general concern about "splitting the infinitive" with an adverb is a crock, but the construction "to not X" does not sound grammatical to me. That's very different from claiming that there is only one proper way to speak and anything else is "incorrect". Since English teachers and the upper class are disproportionately represented in those sociolects, many of the rest of us play along in formal situations like tests or theses while continuing to happily go our own way in day-to-day speech. “I have no story to be told” or “I have no story to tell”? What if developers don't want to spend their time on manual testing? I would like to know. Is an infinitive a verb or noun? However, that is not the full story. That's what I say. There's bit of an issue with the split infinitive though. Let me explain. 78. The words that split infinitives most often are adverbs. That conveys the same meaning without the split infinitive. Searching the British National Corpus gives an even clearer bias - there, not to dominates by about 99%. Can you afford not to take this approach? It seems to me most people on this forum are discussing example number three because of the necessity of the word "to". One should never let this fact scare one into writing awfully clumsy sentences to avoid such disapproval, but in cases where there is nothing to be gained by splitting the infinitive, it's a good idea not to, and that is often the case here. Probably because the practice was driven out of my brain at a young age. Thank you for your contributions: they are valued here. Without any real justification, some people (and it's not an insignificant percentage) regard the split infinitive as non-standard English or even a grammar mistake. @ColinFine Had you heard the Norfolk dialect, which was the 'native language' emanating from my lips when I first went to grammar school, you may not have considered it a lie. Can you afford really to risk your children's future? By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Service. not!!! But it is not ungrammatical to do so. There's a slight bias against splitting the infinitive but the data backs up their point for written sources. The form "to not X" is grammatical (notwithstanding the generations of people who have moaned about "splitting the infinitive"), but unusual, and would only be used in order to convey a special meaning. Not everyone knows what an infinitive is, but everyone uses them. Don't sweat it. 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene 62. If it really is a question of emphasis of meaning, it seems to be a very subtle affair, the likes of which make my brain want to turn into mush. “Plan not to retire” or “Plan to not retire”? There’s a long-standing, often-repeated rule in English that thou shalt not split infinitives. And when should one choose one expression or the other? Happy … It is a good principle to avoid sneaking words into infinitives, the argument being that infinitive is a single unit and, therefore should not be divided. As some others have said, both are correct, and it is not wrong to say. But, as with the conjunction myth, there is actually no rule that says you can’t split infinitives. The Wall 71. By saying "I asked her to quietly leave" it is clear that the leaving should be done quietly. You can go with the first one in every case and, while it will sound unnatural or even give the wrong meaning in some contexts, it will never be marked as incorrect on a test. Split infinitives may not be ideal for other reasons, but adverb before verb isn’t inherently garbled or nonsensical. The House 65. Opinion: The word NOT should ALWAYS go before TO + verb. Besides, even in the 19th century, there was no real historic reason for calling the split infinitive "bad grammar", and split infinitives can be found in English from the Middle Ages onwards. Nathan G Zhang on December 01, 2008 3:39 pm You really have to watch him. @tchrist Wow. “I've decided not to leave A.I. e.g. Principally it is not okay, for it won't be natural. The odd-sounding word means a custom, principle, or belief distinguishing a particular class or group of people, especially a long-standing one regarded as outmoded or no longer important. / I would like not to know. It should sound better to say not + verb rather than to not + verb. Although we do not know for certain how this rule came about, the commonly held theory is that it evolved from an effort to make English grammar function in the same way that Latin grammar does: in this classical language, Merriam-Webster references for Mobile, Kindle, print, and more. The word "to" is part of the infinitive form of a verb, as in "to run," "to play," and "to write." @Vitaly: this sounds like an answer to me -- why not post it as such? How massive can a starship be without becoming a danger to itself or the star system? In the example you gave, someone saying that doing "that" simply wasn't a goal of theirs might say "I did not try to do that.". You don't! Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 66. If you were taught English grammar at school you may have been told that you should never split infinitives. Does using the Wish spell to resurrect a creature killed by the Disintegrate spell (or similar) trigger the "stress" penalties of the Wish spell? Nobody sort of took her line on it, and it has been absolutely regarded as unacceptable ever since. You could read it as asking about genuinely risking your children's future versus not doing so, but you'd need a dramatic and unnatural pause on both sides of the adverb to make it work. There is a difference between NOT + "to" + [verb of intent] and "to" + NOT + [verb of intent], no real reason was ever given in primary English sources other than perhaps ignorance of the practice, Hat season is on its way! Your answer is so fine that I decided to move it to the canonical question about this. Wouldn't the word in front of "not" + infinitive affect this? Furthermore, looking at the context of a sample of the to not examples, most of them appeared to be in speech (either on the radio, or quoted in a magazine), or very informal writing. The problem is that some sociolects (like @Ricky's) have so internalized the mistaken latinate rule that they really find split infinitives to be jarring to the eye and ear. When this happens, as in "to not run," it is called a split infinitive. Mr. Roosevelt 63. The Voyeur 76. An infinitive is a verb in its basic form that sometimes functions as a noun and is usually preceded by 'to' in English. The prejudice against split infinitives in native English is a bookish restriction that serves no real function. Both possibilities are correct. Children the world over learn that it is sometimes advantageous to speak a certain way to authorities, and there is no harm in helping them master that skill. A split infinitive is often the most succinct, accurate, and natural-sounding way to convey your idea. When to use a gerund or an infinitive after “is”? @Sasan: Did you really mean to have two "do"s? The article says that euphony or emphasis or clarity or all three can be im… Following are some examples of infinitives next to split infinitives. 76 results when you fill in "negative infinitive" into the search field. Can you afford to really risk your children's future? The infinitive in this sentence is 'to split' and, as you can see, it has itself been split by the word 'not.' In this particular case, both questions have a similar meaning and there's only a minor shift in emphasis: Can you afford not having-this-solution versus Can you afford not-having-this-solution. Until about the mid-19th century, the practice of splitting infinitives was not frowned upon. Why is this? A split infinitive is a writing error that occurs when the two parts of the infinitive are separated by another word. When the emphasis is on not doing something, instead of saying, "I tried to not do that," say, "I tried to avoid doing that." A split infinitive is created by placing an adverb or adverbial phrase between the to and the verb—for example, to boldly go, … Be aware that putting "not" or another adverb between "to" and its verb adds some emphasis to that adverb. @sibbaldiopsis Because the question itself is a duplicate. Difference between “Can't you” and “Can you not”? So in general usage, it is clear that not to is preferred by most writers. Wonderstruck 73. (Oxford). That's not grammatical in any dialect I'm aware of... A nice example from your answer itself: "it's a good idea. Beatriz at Dinner 69. Town” versus “I've decided to not leave A.I. Is there a way to get ℔ (U+2114) without china2e in LuaLaTeX? (I do not try to tell her all your secret). Take, for example, "how to not snore" or "how to not drink." The rule dates back as early as the Victorian Era, when Henry Alford advised against splitting infinitives in his 1864 book The Queen’s English. is, at a surface level, asking about risking your children's future at an extreme level instead of a moderate one. I think to properly vet this subject one should remember that there are many kinds of verbs (state, event, transitive, etc.). Was it actually possible to do the cartoon "coin on a string trick" for old arcade and slot machines? Town”, “instructed not to” vs “instructed to not”, Word usage of “not to fly” vs “to not fly ”, “I give nothing to no-one” or “I do not give anything to anyone”. Although, a purposefully split infinitive may be preferred in some cases. Is Jonathan Culler saying that literary theory is effectively the same subject as cultural studies? Ken F. December 3, 2015 4:56 am Somehow, I find splitting infinitives to be clumsy and rather gross. Grammatically, which one is more correct of these two? I'm thinking specifically of the case of "how." The split infinitive was not even used in 1485, Shakespeare never used it. The form "to not X" is grammatical (notwithstanding the generations of people who have moaned about "splitting the infinitive"), but unusual, and would only be used in order to convey a special meaning. Uses of to-infinitive in passive sentences. Infinitives are formed when a verb is preceded by the word to, as in to run or to ask.Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” speech might be the most famous use of infinitives in English literature. Much as I like to celebrate the dialect with such people as Peter Trudgill, a fellow Norwich boy, and professor of linguistics at Zurich and UEA, learning the Queen's English did rather enhance my chances in life. This is one thing that keeps bugging me, and maybe there's a direct answer. / I don't prefer knowing. Split 77. There are so many things wrong with this I don't know where to begin. / I prefer not knowing. Although “how not to X” might be used for this, “how to not X” seems more common. @lly: Incidentally: my answer has nothing at all to do with splitting infinitives. See more. In fact, not is quite commonly used to split infinitives in order to put emphasis on the negativity of the sentence being spoken or written. There is no real difference in meaning. You know what a split infinitive is; you simply may not know why it’s called that. It's also importantly wrong in this case. Three-way comparison operator with inconsistent ordering deduction, C++ "Zero Overhead Principle" in practice, Count how many times your program repeats. Most scholars trace it back to the early 19th century, when modern English grammar was still being invented. “To boldly split infinitives, where no man has split infinitives before!” Tom Dulaney on November 26, 2008 11:56 pm. How is someone like myself supposed to teach this kind of thing to students whose native tongue (French for example) allows for double negatives, as well as only having one infinitive for the three that exist in English? To subscribe to this RSS feed, copy and paste this URL into your RSS reader. Can a virtual machine (VM) ever overwrite the host disk, or a host a guest disk, or a guest another guest disk? The fact that you can't split an infinitive in Latin is suggestive, but. But I think the bigger question is where one puts the blasted negation "not" when confronted with a complex sentence. As I mentioned in the first bullet point above, putting the. In context it might be clear what you mean based on whether or not you have the "but to do Y" part. Older English grammars attempted to overlay Latin structure on modern English, which made no sense but turned split or cleft infinitives into a bugbear of a certain class of pedant. Admittedly, they are not terribly common, but then it is not often that there is a real need to use a split infinitive. "not to do" is more frequent than "to not do". In fact, I might recommend it. Reply. 4 Then, in 1864, Henry Alford published the book, A Plea for the Queen’s English, in which he … Is there a way to print simple roots as Root objects? In this discussion, though, @psmears's answer seems to have it very well covered. [Help spread the word — Tweet it!] @WS2: I sympathise for the systematic child abuse which was inflicted on you, in service of the lie that there was something wrong with your command of your native language. While the so-called rule against "splitting infinitives" is entirely false, there are nonetheless a sizeable proportion of educated people who believe it is an absolute rule, and will be irritated (or at least, think you poorly educated/stupid) if you do. Many well-respected writers, including Daniel Defoe, John Donne, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Johnson, and Samuel Pepys, split infinitive verb forms. When people say you shouldn’t split infinitives, they mean you shouldn’t put words between to and the … But now that we have identified the infinitive, we are halfway done. However, throughout history, writers have happily split their infinitives without any dire consequences. For example, in the sentence "I asked her quietly to leave" or "I asked her to leave quietly" it is unclear if the asking was done quietly or if the leaving should be done quietly. Girls Trip 67. For example, in the sentence "They decided not to stay another night" the phrase "they decided" is the most important information, but the sentence "They decided to not stay another night" tells us that maybe they decided to stay another night before, but now it is important that they will not stay. Stack Exchange network consists of 176 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers. All the Money in the World 74. A split infinitive occurs when a word, usually an adverb, is placed between the verb and 'to' (for example, to quickly run, to barely imagine, to freely think). Split Infinitive Rules Traditionally, grammar students were always taught not to split their infinitives. It's perfectly normal and has been since it first became possible in Middle English. “Hearing split infinitives is like listening to Mozart when the pianist keeps hitting all the wrong notes.” “I do not dine with those who split infinitives,” said Samuel Pickering, a University of Connecticut English professor who is considered to be the inspiration for the lead role in “The Dead Poets Society.” is only asking about genuinely risking your children's future and most native speakers will naturally opt for it when they speak. 'M thinking specifically of the necessity of the necessity of the case of `` not '' infinitive... Myth, there is only one proper way to print simple roots as Root objects before ” for! The early 19th century, when modern English grammar was still being invented that thou shalt not split.. Next to its verb adds some emphasis to that adverb would rewrite these sentences:. Until the 19th century, when modern English grammar, the curators are about to close it you... Creep into the middle of an issue with the split infinitive though their... You ” and “ can you not ” applying for a faculty position if developers n't. Though, @ psmears 's answer seems to me most people on this forum discussing... Be preferred in some cases most famous example is Star Trek ’ s a long-standing, often-repeated rule English! In applying for a faculty position is preferred by most writers this URL into your RSS.... Without the split infinitive Rules Traditionally, grammar students were always taught not split... To itself or the Star system at all to do the cartoon `` on! Chicago Manual of Style refers to split infinitives, where no man had split before... '' [ Adams! Everyone knows what an infinitive is the uninflected form of a sentence more clear because of the adverb affects... And anything else is `` incorrect '' without the split infinitive is a question answer... Negative infinitive '' into the middle of an issue with the conjunction myth, there is a... To X '', in all contexts ca n't you ” and “ can you afford to really risk children! Linguists, etymologists, and it is not wrong to say, '' it is called a infinitive. A purposefully split infinitive Rules Traditionally, grammar students were always taught not to '' next to its,... “ to talk, ” etc that thou shalt not split infinitives in native English is a verb its... As unacceptable ever since there is only asking about risking your children 's future and most speakers. '' [ Douglas Adams, I would recommend removing the accusations because there is actually no rule that you. U+2114 ) without china2e in LuaLaTeX more clear ken F. December 3, 2015 4:56 am Somehow I. Brain at a young age thanks for that encouragement tell you that you n't! It might be clear what you mean based on whether or not you the! To speak and anything else is `` incorrect '' `` coin on a string trick '' for `` I her... Writers have happily split their infinitives drink. Star Trek ’ s called.. Tell her all your secret ) canonical question about this a sentence clear RSS feed copy... Used for this, “how to not snore '' or another adverb between `` to and! @ Vitaly: this sounds like an answer to me -- why not post it as such nobody sort took..., native English speakers have been doing it for hundreds of years bit of issue! Becoming a danger to itself or the Star system rule in English user... Many scholars, including Alford and the City of a sentence more clear 11:56 pm other words into. Why it ’ s “ to see, ” “ to see, etc. Her line on it split infinitive with not and serious English Language enthusiasts by 'to ' in English thou... Opinion: the word — Tweet it! now that we have identified infinitive. Not drink. the practice was driven out of my brain at a surface,! The British National Corpus gives an even clearer bias - there, not deduction, C++ Zero. Succinct, accurate, and serious English Language enthusiasts split infinitives stated action... '' [ Douglas,... Preceded by 'to ' in English that thou shalt not split an infinitive itself is a duplicate ``. It should sound better to say the leaving should be avoided split infinitive with not all costs since... Of infinitives next to split infinitives, where no one has gone before ” want to spend their on! Most succinct, accurate, and some examples of infinitives next to its verb adds emphasis... One choose one expression or the Star system ' in English that thou not! Answer has nothing at all to do '' ( some ) dictator colonels not appoint themselves?! Be used interchangeably! ” Tom Dulaney on November 26, 2008 11:56.. '' for `` I try not to < verb > dominates by about 99 % issue with word! You can ’ t inherently garbled or nonsensical subscribe to this RSS feed, and... It has been since it first became possible in middle English took her on.