Wordwatch Towers

A plain language guide to punctuation, grammar and writing well.

Technical stuff – part 6: verbs (the infinitive)

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Jogging with dog at Carcavelos Beach
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When talking or writing about a verb, the word ‘to’ is usually added. For example:

  •  To run
  • To eat
  • To speak
  • To think
  • To consider

This is called ‘the infinitive’ because the verb does not apply to anything or anyone in particular.

You will probably have heard the ‘rule’ that  infinitives cannot be split. Well, actually, they can.

The split version

‘Splitting an infinitive’ means to place a word or words (usually an adverb) between the word ‘to’ and the verb. For example:

To humbly beg

To loudly speak

To thoughtfully answer

A very famous example of a successful split infinitive is:

To boldly go where no one has gone before

If your split infinitive sounds better than not splitting it – split away.

What is a verb?


Parts of speech including nouns, verbs and adjectives


Written by Wordwatch

07/01/2010 at 10:15 am

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