Syntax: Split Infinitives

Lesson Categories

Back to All Lessons

Lesson Categories

Get a broad overview of our lessons by category.

Split Infinitive:

  • What Is a Split Infinitive? A split infinitive involves placing an adverb or other word/phrase between the word “to” and an infinitive verb (e.g. “go”): “to boldly go”. Historically, there was a rule against splitting infinitives. But the reasons for such a rule are antiquated and have no application to today’s legal-writing landscape.

Rule: Split the infinitive when the resulting sentence is clearer.

Example #1:

  • NOTHe agreed promptly to settle the lawsuit once he received our offer.”
  • BUT “He agreed to promptly settle the lawsuit once he received our offer.”
  • Why: In the first version, can you tell what was done promptly? Was it his agreement? Or was it the settlement? Avoid this ambiguity by splitting the infinitive.

Example #2:

  • NOT “Plaintiff failed properly to allege damages.”
  • BUT “Plaintiff failed to properly allege damages.”
  • Why: The reason is self-evident: the first version sounds awkward, clunky, and nonsensical.

For more on split infinitives, click here.

And for some practice problems, you need to boldly go to the questions below.

2

1 / 5

1. True/False: Splitting the infinitive enhances clarity or readability. We expect the stock price to more than double this quarter.

2 / 5

2. True/False: Splitting the infinitive enhances clarity or readability. She tried to carefully untangle the wires.

3 / 5

3. True/False: Splitting the infinitive enhances clarity or readability. To boldly pursue justice is their ultimate goal.

4 / 5

4. True/False: Splitting the infinitive enhances clarity or readability. They need to accurately measure the ingredients.

5 / 5

5. True/False: Splitting the infinitive enhances clarity or readability. He promised to thoroughly review the report.

Your score is

Posted in