Split infinitives

April 11, 2020 by Joshua
in Freedom

This post is not about grammar. The first word of the title is a verb.

When I was young, I was taught not to split infinitives, that “irregardless” was not a word, and other rules to follow. I planned to write this post about how I find splitting infinitives makes more sense. That is, “to boldly go” makes more sense to me than “boldly to go” or “to go boldly.”

I think the Latin roots of verbs were single words, so people used to consider “to go” one word. Therefore we shouldn’t split a single word into two parts.

Later I heard a view that native speakers of a language can’t speak that language wrong. How native speakers speak defines that language. I don’t need to conclude that debate, only to point out that we can choose to follow others’ rules or not, in grammar or anywhere. We don’t even have to consider them meaningful.

English isn’t Latin but evolved from it, so we could say to transform from Latin to English, every speaker along the way broke old rules. Or we could say what I do—that what people called rules were customs or people trying to tell others what to do.

What to wear, how to behave, when to do this or that, what to read, whom to follow, and so on. Other people may tell me what to do. Most people follow most rules. I do, at least I think I do. My point isn’t to break rules. I didn’t choose an image above saying “Follow the rules” or “Break the rules,” but “Know the rules.”

Knowing the rules others follow and try to impose on you enables me to choose to follow them or not consciously and deliberately. I have to live with the consequences of not meeting others’ expectations, making them uncomfortable, or whatever.

This post is about freedom and its title starts with a verb.

Read my weekly newsletter

On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit

Leave a Reply

Sign up for my weekly newsletter