Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

On the use of split infinitives in English

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this chapter

+ Tax (if applicable)

Chapter Summary

A split infinitive construction denotes a particular type of syntactic tmesis in which a word or phrase, especially an adverb, occurs between the infinitive marker to and the infinitive of the verb. Although rare from a statistical viewpoint, the earliest instances of the split infinitive date back to the 13th century, in which a personal pronoun, an adverb or two or more words could appear in such environments (Visser 1984, II: 1038-1045). Its use drops drastically throughout the 16th century, but it begins to gain ground again in the 19th century, hence resisting the severe criticisms of grammarians. Nowadays, however, a search for these types of constructions in a present-day English corpus reveals that the prejudice against split infinitives is receding. Therefore, this paper investigates the actual use of the construction in different corpora with the following objectives: a) to provide the statistics of the construction from a historical perspective; b) to analyse the type of adverbs occurring in these contexts; c) to offer a taxonomy of the adverb from a functional perspective; d) to investigate the combined effect of stress and rhythm in the development of the construction; and e) to review the actual use of a prototype splitting in present-day English usage.



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Corpus Linguistics — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation