Split Infinitives – Definition And Examples

02.05.23 Language rules Time to read: 2min

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Split infinitives are a common phenomenon in academic writing and the realm of language rules. An infinitive refers to the fundamental form of a verb, usually introduced by the word “to.” Split infinitives emerge when adverbials or adverbs are placed between “to” and the verb. It is widely argued that split infinitives pose grammatical errors, however, most style guides accept them for emphasis and clarity. This article will define split infinitives and illustrate how they are used correctly in a sentence.

Split Infinitives – In a Nutshell

  • Split infinitives are more relevant to use in informal writing and speech rather than formal
  • They are a particular type of misplaced modifiers
  • Adverbs or other words are placed within the infinitive structure of a verb

Definition: Split infinitive

An infinitive defines a verb in its uninflected form, e.g., “to do,” “to go,” “to say,” “to make,” etc. In most cases, it is indicated by placing “to” prior to the verb. Regarding this, split infinitives define when a modifier is placed between the “to” and the verb.

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Examples of split infinitives

Split infinitives can alter the meaning of a sentence or emphasize different parts of the sentence or phrase. In formal writing, it is generally correct to place the adverb at the end of the sentence.


“It is suggested to determine the target group immediately.

However, when placing “immediately” between the infinitive verb, the importance to prioritize selecting the target group is emphasized:


“It is suggested to immediately determine the target group.”


“To effectively provide”

“To substantially grow”

“To deeply regret”

When infinitives should not be split

Infinitives should not be split, if it would cause confusion and ambiguity and if there is no reason to split them for emphasis.


He was urged to further examine the results.

He was urged to examine further results.

In general, it is not advised to use them, especially in academic writing, as they may sound awkward or informal. Therefore, it is imperative to thoroughly choose when to use them when writing an academic paper.

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They are a form of misplaced modifiers. Typically, it is adverbs or adverbial phrases splitting an infinitive verb by placing them between the “to” and the verb.

It is relevant to split them when you want to highlight a specific part of the sentence.

In general, you should avoid using them in formal context, as they can cause ambiguity or confusion.