The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Pat Gracey
contributing writer 

Splitting infinitives

The Spirit of Tehachapi


November 21, 2020

Pat Gracey

I get along very well with the English language as it's the only language I learned to speak. A smattering of Spanish words have crept into my vocabulary my having grown up with the Spanish speaking population here in Tehachapi and elsewhere. I paid attention during English classes in school; really, I did. How I missed the part about split infinitives, I'll never know. Also, how I never missed the "missing of them" I certainly do not know.

It all started in the BeeKay Theatre during a movie with talented child actress, Margaret O'Brien. In one of her many fine films she was cast as a child prodigy raised by a group of scientists who decided to bring her up without any make believe or fairy tales. Just the facts. In that period of time she was probably supposed to be about 6 years old. She was to be kidnapped (in the movie) and held for ransom.

The kidnappers were very kind to her and one of her captors was a young man who took great care of her. He decided to read her a bedtime story but since he was not a great scholar, she ended up reading it to him. The "good thief" who was caring for her also told her stories of make believe and Santa Claus; stories she'd never heard from her scientist foster parents. When it came time for the ransom note to be written she exclaimed, "You cannot send this; you've split an infinitive!"

My life, at that time, had been lived without knowing how to split a darned infinitive. How could I find out without showing my ignorance? The best way was to find out secretly. Never let anyone know I couldn't split an infinitive. I found a book that was so complete in its explanation that I was thoroughly confused. That's okay though. I soon found out that the whole world splits infinitives. Right in front of Wikipedia and everybody! I had heard that even the popular TV show, "Star Trek," committed an error in their opening statement each week. It went something like "...they boldly go where no one has gone before." How could they ? They should have "gone boldly."

Infinitive is a noun but turns into an adverb by adding an "ly." That's good enough for me. By the time I found that most well meaning, law abiding citizens split their infinitives regularly I ceased my quest of years with no loss of sleep over the whole deal.

The next article in the book I perused mentioned dangling participles. Forget it. I don't know how to dangle a participle either, but no doubt, have been dangling them for years. At least I can spell it.

By the way, the little girl got back safely to her scientist parents but she was spoiled for their theory of raising her without any childhood stories. She said she liked it better without so much reality. I'm with her. Wish I could recall the name of the movie.


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