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    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 2

    split infinitives


    I was having a conversation with a friend this morning in which she said: "I copied Will in to an email". I said she had split an infinitive ('copied' and 'in') but she was of the opinion that a split infinitve had to include 'to' and the verb (as in the classic 'to boldly go'). Having had a scout around on the Internet, I'm prepared to accept she is probably right! My question then: is her sentence grammatically correct? If the 'to' is not present, is it 'acceptable' to split these words that seem to naturally go together?

    Other examples include things like: "I ran hurriedly away"; "He jumped immediately up" From the definitions I have seen, a split infinitive has to include the 'to', but these examples seem very similar to me. Are they split infinitives, or is there another name given to this type of thing? Or are they simply fine as they are?!

    Many thanks in advance,

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

    • Join Date: Sep 2003
    • Posts: 12,970

    Re: split infinitives

    Welcome, tommyfitzy.

    [1] I copied Will in to an email.
    [2] I ran hurriedly away.
    [3] He jumped immediately up.

    An infinitive verb, especially those we split, have two parts: the particle to and a base verb. Like this,

    to run
    to go
    to see
    to be

    Your friend's sentence above ([1]) does not have an infinitive verb. The phrase to an email is made up of the preposition to (which, by the way, looks like the particle to) and the noun email. There was no splittin' going on.

    As for examples [2] and [3], they have phrasal verbs. Those are verbs that have two parts. They consist of a verb and an adverb or a preposition. For example, run away and jump up. It's OK to split them - if they can be split.

    Now, going back to sentence [1], the question is, is copied in to correct? Well, Microsoft uses the phrase copy into; moreover, into means motion to or towards, and it answers the question where?

    [4] I copied Will into an email.

    Learn more here: Into/In To; Onto/In To

    All the best.

    • Join Date: Feb 2007
    • Posts: 2

    Re: split infinitives

    Thanks for that - very helpful.

    With the first example I was thinking more of the verb 'to copy' rather than 'to email', so thought maybe it should have been 'I copied in Will' (rather than 'I copied Will in'). Clearly I'm wrong though!

    Thanks again for your help.


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