Sunday, April 12, 2009

I Am Defiantly Splitting Infinitives

One of my bosses is an English/Blue Book sort of nerd, and I must admit that I am at times too. I've been reading some of his interrogatory responses in hopes of avoiding the recreation of the wheel so to speak and ran across several oddly written sentences. I realized he was trying to avoid splitting infinitives and wondered what you guys thought about that (or if you ever think about such trivial* things).

Here's two examples:

"Defendant Bank failed appropriately to monitor the development of the collateral."

"Defendant failed timely to notify this Plaintiff."

Awkward. I'm rewriting. This reminds me of the painful way people sometime rewrite questions so that they won't end with a preposition, e.g. "On what did you step?" This reminds me of a joke I heard 15 years ago:

A midwestern farmer is crossing Harvard square searching for the library. He approaches a stately looking gentleman, who happens to be a Harvard English professor, and he asks, "Excuse me sir. Can you tell me where the library is at?"**

The professor looks somewhat disdainfully and replies, "At Harvard," he sniffs "we do not end sentences with prepositions."

After a pause the farmer turns back to the professor and asks, "Well then, can you tell me where the library is at, asshole?"

p.s. I'm grateful that my mom and step-dad joined me for church and lunch today. And while no words or p.s. comment can express my gratitude for my Savior and Father's sacrifice, I am deeply grateful for the hope, love, and strength of my risen King.

* Just thought I'd let you know that this word has been on my mind a lot lately.
** I actually hate the way this question sounds. The use of "at" is redundant but pointing out that a question ends with a preposition is even more annoying.

12 comments:

L.C.T. said...

How funny. I do actually think about split infinitives often. Mostly when I notice it in other people's speech or writing. I only jokingly correct friends though. What intrigues me more is how many people don't realise that, technically, you're not supposed to split an infinitive - and what intrigues me even more than that is how many people don't even know what an infinitive is!

Ys said...

I don't think I've ever thought about it much before actually, which is weird considering I'm a writer hehe. I don't think I've ever finished a sentence with "at" at the end though. That just sounds wrong to me.

jennifer said...

First, that joke made me laugh out loud. Second, I would not hesitate to rewrite those two sentences and any other similar ones. There are worse things than split infinitives (such as pretentions).

Isabella said...

I love it! Split infinitives and grammatical mistakes bother me, too. Improper use of the semicolon is especially annoying. We went over all of these things at the writer's conference I recently attended. Unfortunately, I do make a habit of using passive voice, which is a big no-no in writing.

Aaron said...

Ending sentences with prepositions won't ever be more annoying that the frequency at which people insert the word "like" into their conversations.

Scotty said...

Ha! Good one :)

Definitely worthy of a rewrite.

OK Chick said...

"I'm grateful that my mom and step-dad joined me for church and lunch today."
Very awesome! What a great Easter present.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Aaron. The overuse of "like" grates on my nerves. I also can't stand the overuse of "you know." But what really annoys me is the misuse of "your and you're." Didn't we all learn this in second grade?

Ally said...

LCT: I think the first time I remember learning about infinitives was in Spanish in high school. As for splitting infinitives, there seems to be disagreement about whether or not that rule should be/is a rule.

Ys: Agreed.

Jennifer: Exactly. My goal is clear communication.

Isabella: I love semi-colons. And I want to hear more about the passive voice.

Aaron: I fear that I do that like way too much.

Scotty: Yep.

Ok Chick: It definitely was.

Anonymous: Lately people's misuse of the apostrophe has been driving me crazy.

cjkurz said...

Prepositions aside, Stephen King says that "the road to Hell is paved with adverbs."

For instance, the two sentences you highlighted would be better altogether without the "appropriately" or "timely." They aren't necessary to convey the point. Eh?

cjkurz said...

oops...the above comment was from me, Lib...I guess I was somehow signed in under my hubby!

Ally said...

Lib: I knew who you were:) I think the adverbs are necessary in this case but correct me if I'm wrong. The Defendant Bank eventually notified the Plaintiff but not when it should have--to say that the Bank failed to notify Plaintiff wouldn't be accurate. Or as to the monitoring, the Bank did monitor the collateral development--just not in accordance with some important development plans--hence appropriately. Maybe the sentences just need to be completely rewritten. Oh well, we're filing this document tomorrow. I'll be glad to have it off my plate.