Wednesday, 24 July 2013

"How to Instantly Become a Better Writer" - hee hee hee

Okay, so I'm a bit of a grammar fanatic.

(N.B. Please do NOT use the term grammar Nazi, which I find offensive. To compare my desire to stick to linguistic rules with any of the horrors perpetrated in the Second World War is... at best inappropriate.)

Okay, so I'm a bit of a pedant too.


Anyway - "How to Instantly Become a Better Writer" graced an email from someone I admire for his work on boosting blog traffic. It made me laugh uproariously!

How to Instantly Become A Better Writer?

Well, you could start by avoiding split infinitives, mate!


For the most part, split infinitives in sentences make me cringe. They sound so UGLY. The beauty of the English language is something I hold dear and I hate it when it's sullied by sloppy syntax.

That's not to say that splitting infinitives is ALWAYS wrong. Sometimes it works, because turning oneself inside out to avoid it leads to some incredibly clumsy phrasing, stilted and unnatural, and could change the meaning of the sentence.

Here's a great example from the linguist R.L.Trask. 
  • She decided to gradually get rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
"Gradually" splits the infinitive "to get". However, if the adverb were moved, where could it go?
  • She decided gradually to get rid of the teddy bears she had collected.
This might imply that the decision was gradual.
  • She decided to get rid of the teddy bears she had collected gradually.
This implies that the collecting process was gradual.
See the whole article cited in Wikipedia.
Conclusion: Split infinitive...avoidable.

Or you could just take the path of a few of my friends: