- For Teachers
"promise to not run away" or "promise not to run away"? Please explain the rules of similar verbs. Thanks
Last edited by bertietheblue; 24-May-2010 at 00:53.
Another thread -- which I can't find now -- had this link:
BBC News | UK | 'To boldly go' gets green light
I enjoyed it.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
I think that not only is splitting infinitives acceptable, sometimes it is the (most) direct and correct way to clearly state your meaning.
I did it not to become poor, but to follow my dream. (I did it to follow my dream, but I became poor as a result.)
I did it (in ordrer) to not become poor. (I did it to prevent myself from becoming poor.)
So the 'not to' and 'to not' grammars are both legitimate but have different meanings. (at least different emphases)
(What do you promise to do?)
I promise to not run away. (This sounds better to me than 'I promise not to run away.')
I don't think it's a matter of formal/informal or British/American English. I think it's a matter of precise grammar.
'I promise not to run away' is preferable to 'I promise to not run away'
Also, you could never say 'to not' in an answer with the infinitive dropped
'Are you going to run away again?'
'No, I promise not to.'
I'm busy now but I'll come back to this later. Any other views out there?
On the one hand, you're saying the split inifinitive is more precise; on the other ('that's what I'm saying') you're agreeing that you shouldn't split the infinitive unless the context makes this preferable. So, which is it?
Anyway, I'm coming back to this post. The unsplit infinitive still has a last stand to fight!
I said I'd come back to the split infinitive in negations. I'm confident academic sources will back up my stance but we'll see. I'll come back to this later but for now, wikipedia will have to do:
"Splitting infinitives with negations remains an area of contention:
I want to not see you anymore. I soon learned to not provoke her. Even those who are generally tolerant of split infinitives may draw the line at these. This appears to be because the traditional idiom, placing the negation before the marker (I soon learned not to provoke her) or with verbs of desire, negating the finite verb (I don't want to see you anymore) remains easy and natural, and is still overwhelmingly the more common construction, even if some might argue that there are circumstances in which it carries a slightly different meaning."
Anyway, it doesn't seem that I am the only one defending the splitting of infinitives. And I don't think that negations are a special case. In fact, just off the top of my head, I think that negation is a likely situation in which infinitives could be split.
Perhaps most importantly, I think that the logic of the red sentences speaks for itself. I am not at all inclined to back off from splitting infinitives.