Part G: Unsplit Infinitives Causing Miscues. Writers who have given in to the most widespread of superstitions -- or who believe that most of the readers have done so -- avoid all split infinitives.
They should at least avoid introducing unclear modifiers into their prose. But many writers do introduce them, and the result is often a miscue or ambiguity -- e.g.: "Each is trying subtly to exert his or her influence over the other." Mark H. McCormack, What They Don't Teach You at Harvard Business School 26 (1984).
In that sentence, does "subtly" modify the participle "trying" or the infinitive "to exert"? Because we can't tell, the sentence needs to be revised in any of the following ways:
Part H: Unsplit Verb Phrases. A surprising number of writers believe that it's a mistake to put an adverb in the midst of a verb phrase. The surprise is on them: every language authority who addresses the question holds just the opposite view -- that the adverb generally belongs in the midst of a verb phrase. The canard to the contrary frequently causes awkwardness and artificiality -- e.g.: "I soon will be calling you." (Read: "I will soon be calling you.")
- "Each is subtly trying to exert his or her influence over the other,"
- "Each is trying to exert his or her influence subtly over the other,"
- "Each is trying to subtly exert his or her influence over the other," or
- "Each is trying to exert his or her subtle influence over the
Part I: Prepositions Moved from the Ends of Sentences. "That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put," said Winston Churchill, mocking the priggishness that causes some writers and speakers to avoid ending with a preposition.
Friday, November 30, 2007
More on Hypercorrection
This comes from Garner's Usage Tip of the Day:
Posted by Martha Brockenbrough at 8:06 AM