Posted by: Ivy Wigmore
grammar, grammar myths, grammar rules you can break, grammar wars
Which is preferable?
1. To reduce its vulnerability, the government planned to gradually reduce its number of Internet connections.
2. To reduce its vulnerability, the government planned to reduce its number of Internet connections gradually.
“To reduce” is what is known as an infinitive. The old rule is that you don’t split infinitives, but even when that was the rule, there were exceptions. Quite often, refusing to split an infinitive results in an awkward sentence. Even worse, keeping your infinitives glued together can also make your meaning unclear.
In this case, if we place “gradually” at the end of the sentence, it makes it seem as if reducing the number of connections gradually is what reduces vulnerability. But the gradual nature of the reduction has nothing to do with the purpose — it’s just the manner in which the action is being performed. Sentence #1 is more apt to be understood properly: The government is reducing Internet connections to reduce vulnerability but will do so in a gradual manner.
What are split infinitives?
What’s wrong with split infinitives?
You see? Sometimes infinitives should stick together; sometimes it’s better to split them up. Make the sensible choice and don’t let outdated rules trip you up. If your English teacher taught you otherwise … well, your English teacher was wrong.
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