The split infinitive is a controversial grammatical construction used to subtly add emphasis to a specific word in an act of speech or writing. To efficiently split an infinitive, it is possible to simply insert an adverb between the preposition "to" and the verb. Yet while it is common to just split the infinitive with a single adverb, there are more advanced options. It is feasible to cleverly and creatively slot more than one adverb in before the verb or to, if desired, use whole adverbial or prepositional phrases to elegantly divide the infinitive down the middle. One could even opt to, in order to really annoy pedants, nest one split infinitive inside another.
Its critics claim its use is unadvisable because if language-users fail to actually learn how to correctly render the infinitive, it may lead us as a society to completely forget the relation of English to Latin, a language in which it is impossible to ever split an infinitive. Although splitting infinitives in English continues to greatly irritate many grammarians, some native speakers argue it is wrong to arbitrarily apply the rules of one language to another.
Academics seem to generally agree that the oldest recorded use of a split infinitive can be found in the title of the 1067 text "Howe to properlie fuke thy cowes" (a treatise that describes how to effectively breed cattle). Throughout the text, there are several instances of split infinitives that are employed to accurately describe the reproductive process.
Split infinitives went on to regularly be used thereafter in English Literature, notably in Canterbury Tales:
- Dark was the night as pitch, aye dark as coal,
- And through the window she put out her hole.
- And Absalom no better felt nor worse,
- Went to greedily kiss her naked arse.
And although the Renaissance brought with it a desire for English to completely emulate Latin in all its breadth and complexity, early versions of Hamlet show that even William Shakespeare was known to occasionally break the rule:
- "To be, or to not be, that is the question."
Despite opposition in the 16th and 17th century, the split infinitive managed to gradually creep back in to formal writing. By the Victorian period, the Queen herself was recorded as using the construction:
- "We are not amused. We had to bloody give birth to nine children, and that man decided to suddenly die. We declare that he is to forever be remembered as the name for a cock-ring."
Renowned novelists of the period were quick to obsequiously follow suit. Jane Austen added split infinitives to her first novel Sense and Sensibility, and opted to once again use the construction in the first lines of Pride and Prejudice:
- "It is a truth to universally be acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."
Not one to ever be outdone, her bitter rival Charles Dickens, who was to eventually share the honour of having his face on a pound-note with Austen, began A Tale of Two Cities with the immortal lines:
- "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age to actively seek wisdom, it was the age to inevitably find foolishness, it was the epoch to deeply believe, it was the epoch to sceptically dismiss creeds, it was the season to brightly light the path, it was the season to repeatedly stray into darkness..."
Indeed, Dickens was so influential on both sides of the Atlantic that even well-educated speakers who had been taught to never split infinitives began to frequently do so. In the 20th century, people of all social classes began to finally approve of the construction (although its critics refused to ever accept it) and it was even employed by Neville Chamberlain to famously declare World War Two had begun:
- "This morning the British Ambassador in Berlin handed the German Government a final note stating that, unless we heard from them by 11 o'clock that they were prepared to at once withdraw their troops from Poland, a state of war would exist between us. I have to sadly tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is to immediately go to war with Germany."
Ironically, after declaring war, Chamberlain soon split, when he was forced to humiliatingly resign.
Section to unnecessarily introduce sex into the article
To better engage our more puerile readers, we have createdthe following examples of split infinitives in a gratuitously sexual context. During the act of sexual intercourse, many native speakers are likely to inappropriately split infinitives, although some prefer to completely focus on their attempts to inappropriately split something else entirely.
- She managed to totally deepthroat him, only to unfortunately retch all over the camera lens immediately after.
- I had never had the chance to vaginally penetrate a girl before, so I wasn't best pleased when the Jehovah's Witnesses rang the doorbell.
- She had to reluctantly swallow it or risk missing out on the role.
- I want you to, like, creampie all over my coffee table.
- I can't believe she used to really go ass-to-mouth.
- My penis is going to literally explode. Well, not literally, but you get the idea. I'm going to fucking come!  Where do you want me to actually shoot it, Kim?
- At that point your honour, I decided to subtly spike her drink, and then when she fell unconscious, I began to indecently assault her, without taking into account the risk of two Swedish exchange students coming to valiantly save her. Now I am worried gang members are going to anally rape me.
How to successfully correct idiots who split infinitives
Although they may be tempted to gently correct people who seem to wilfully split infinitives in order to merely provoke them, grammatical pedants must be sure not to harshly overreact. Experts believe that it serves no real purpose to publicly humiliate infinitive-splitters, except to perhaps upset them and make them more likely to again make the same mistake.
Instead, the most useful response is to discreetly take the person to one side and threaten to absolutely wallop him if he does it again. The hope being that this will inspire him to eventually learn how to properly speak and write.
Tendency to politely ignore rule
While grammarians may yearn to one day live in a world where no one dares to so much as split a single infinitive, many English speakers are happy to completely ignore any such criticism, and often tell their critics to "just fuck off".
Revisionists often choose to pointedly remark that, just because something was not possible in Latin, that does not mean we are to necessarily regard it as wrong in English, or vice versa. LATINWASALSOWRITTENENTIRELYINCAPITALSWITHOUTPUNCTUATION
Modern English usage therefore finds itself ironically split between those who can't bear to even see one infinitive separated from its preposition, and those who will not cease to deliberately split them until the day they die.
Bearing this in mind, and for the sake of balance, Uncyclopedia is happy to freely provide the following section, aimed at those who intend to continuously flout this convention and who wish to effectively silence their critics.
How to really upset pedants who go on about split infinitives
- Ask them to successfully rephrase this without splitting the infinitive: She decided to gradually get rid of the vibrators she had collected.
- Ask them to successfully rephrase this without splitting the infinitive: Uncyclopedia expects its readership numbers to more than double within two years.
- Ask them to successfully rephrase any of the following without splitting the infinitive and not feel at least a little lame: She claimed Zombiebaron used to racially abuse/sexually abuse/sexually harass her.
- Ask them to successfully rephrase this without splitting the infinitive and not feel at least a little lame: He was not found guilty of rape, but the jury did believe he tried to sexually assault her.
Footnotes to quickly read
- Yes, that is her anus he is referring to, culture fans.
- The original sentence continues and contains 200 other examples.
- This is wrong, and not just grammatically.
- This is what other people's girlfriends say during sex, and what other men say about 19.5 minutes after you usually say it.
- Thank you Brock Turner for that one.
- I am very clever, you know.
- Horrible crimes are your friends, infinitive-splitting fans.
- Thank you Brock Turner for that one, too.
This page contains 106 split infinitives. And one unsplit one.