Skip to main content
Select Source:

SPLIT INFINITIVE

SPLIT INFINITIVE. A prescriptive term for an INFINITIVE phrase such as to cut or to enjoy that has been opened up (‘split’, ‘cleft’) by the insertion of a word or phrase (especially an adverb), as in: ‘to sharply cut the federal deficit’; ‘encouraging more people to, for example, park their cars’. Long a major bone of contention among teachers, grammarians, and commentators on style and usage, the split infinitive in the last two decades has become a matter of minor concern. For further discussion of the controversy, see USAGE GUIDANCE AND CRITICISM.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"SPLIT INFINITIVE." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"SPLIT INFINITIVE." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/split-infinitive

"SPLIT INFINITIVE." Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/split-infinitive

split infinitive

split infinitive a construction consisting of an infinitive with an adverb or other word inserted between to and the verb, e.g. she seems to really like it. Although it is still widely held that such a construction is wrong, the dislike of it is not well-founded, being based on an analogy with Latin, where infinitives consist of only one word.

In English, the placing of an adverb may be extremely important in giving a particular emphasis; in some cases, splitting an infinitive can only be avoided at the cost of losing such emphasis.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"split infinitive." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"split infinitive." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/split-infinitive

"split infinitive." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/split-infinitive

split infinitive

split in·fin·i·tive • n. a construction consisting of an infinitive with an adverb or other word inserted between to and the verb, e.g., she seems to really like it.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"split infinitive." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"split infinitive." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 15, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/split-infinitive-0

"split infinitive." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved December 15, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/split-infinitive-0