A good old grammar book

On p. 73, discussing infinitives, the example is given: I saw the leaves stir. Accompanying it is explanation: stir is an infinitive without the ‘to’. Hmmm. So when we see a usage we like but does not conform to a rule,
(Get prepared this is long but worth following unless you are one of the “I plant my flag for standards of good English” types; then this may destroy you.)
On. p. 212, we read, “To, as indicated by the (), is not treated as a part of the verb. Writers on language are generally agreed that when to introduces an infinitive phrase used as an adjective or an adverb, it performs its proper function as a preposition, meaning toward, for, etc.’ as, I am inclined to believe, I came to hear. When the infinitive phrase is used as a noun, the to expresses no relation; it seems merely to introduce the phrase. When a word loses its proper function, without taking on the function of some other part of speech, we do not see why it should change its name. In the expressions, For me to do this would be wrong, Over the fence is out of danger, few grammarians would hesitate to call ‘for’ and ‘over’ prepositions, although they do not express relation.
We cannot see that to is a part of the verb, for it in no way affects the meaning as does an auxiliary, or as does the to in He was spoken to. Those who call it a part of the verb confuse the learner by speaking of it as the “preposition to” (which, as they have said, is not a preposition) “placed before the infinitive,” i.e. placed before that of which it forms a part = placed before itself.
End of quote. Oh, Mavens, how do you read this? I read it as saying the split infinitive of “To boldly go where no man….” conforms to the rules written here. BTW, none of it should matter b/c of what he writes in the first line above as an explanation: IT IS AN INFINITIVE WITHOUT THE “TO”. Just write the rule to conform to what you want to say and you’re in.
On top of the absurdity of all this, allow me to point out a further absurdity: that anyone would learn to write good English by reading a book like this.
The book is Higher Lessons in English: A Work On English Grammar and Composition, in which….., by (drum roll) Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg, 1882. In case you are not as much of a Maven as you thought you were, Reed and Kellogg developed the vaunted sentence diagramming so beloved of Mavens.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *