Monday, 22 February 2016

Infinitive (February)

‘To deliberately split the infinitive’ is, it may be said, no different from ‘deliberately to split the infinitive’ or ‘to split the infinitive deliberately’. Zealots for Fowler, keen to divide the world into splitters and non-splitters, mayn’t have read the original scripture, which reasons subtly when to unsafely split the infinitive. Five closely argued columns circle around this sentence: “We maintain, however, that a real s.i., though not desirable in itself, is preferable to either of two things, to real ambiguity, and to patent artificiality.” To usefully spend February refreshing our knowledge of usage is one of life’s minor pleasures.

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