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To boldly go . . .

A
 lot of editors waste a lot of time and energy making editing changes that, if you'll excuse the disgusting imagery, do nothing but shove a rod up the backside of good, conversational writing.

Perhaps the best example of this is the un-splitting fetish. No matter how many knuckles have been whacked with rulers over the "split infinitive," grammar experts will testify that there is no rule -- and never has been a rule -- against inserting a word between the to and the verb in an infinitive (as in to boldly go where no man has gone before). Somebody somewhere made up this "rule" because infinitives were never split in Latin. Of course they weren't: In Latin, infinitives are single words.

Many editors take this nonsense one step further by standing guard against anything coming between an auxiliary verb and the verb it "helps." They ain't even infinitives and we're worried sick about splitting 'em! John McIntyre of the Baltimore Sun muses in his excellent "Getting Back to the Word" seminar that most copy editors, given the chance, would have mangled "We Have Always Lived in the Castle," the title of a Shirley Jackson novel, by changing to "We Always Have Lived in the Castle." Does the latter really sound better?

Just as we don't change he has not returned to he not has returned, there is absolutely no need to change something like she has never gone there to she never has gone there.

Actually, I've seen this nonsense taken two steps further: Editors will un-split things that aren't even compound verbs but at first glance look as if they are. So it is still true becomes it still is true. True, of course, isn't even a verb.

To review: Infinitives and other verb phrases should be written the way they sound best. Good writers are good judges of this; when in doubt, leave it alone.


Now what?

Move on to 'THE 5' HABITS OF HIGHLY HOLLYWOOD PEOPLE

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