Tag: Grammar

The Art of Splitting

Don’t we all just split infinitives without giving it a thought?

Image courtesy of buzzle.com

To unconscionably cut a relationship is NOT an artful way of ending it. To subtly break someone’s heart requires some skill, style — and a bit of courage- especially when the reason behind it is a new-found flame. The same is true for splitting infinitives.

I believe it’s perfectly all right to consciously split an infinitive (a verb preceded by “to”) if it adds strength and clarity to the sentence. Bold writers habitually insert adverbs between “to” and a “verb” no matter how many times dogmatic grammarians criticize such phrases as “to never kiss” and “to awfully forget” (the way moralists crucify philanders or polyanders [note: I just made up this word]).

Even the best partners have to get by living separate lives, so do the preposition “to” and the “verb”. Their bond is not restrictive but flexible to split ups. I bet you won’t find fault with  “to eventually succeed”, “to completely fail”, “to hesitantly smile”, and “to quickly remember”. So shall we stop worrying about infinitive breakups?

Leave ‘Em Out!

Why say more than you ought? Learn to leave out some words that belabor expression.

  • First of all I shall give you a lesson in Vocabulary, and last of all in Composition. Omit “of all” as it is unnecessary.
  • I sought him throughout the whole country. Leave out “whole” because it’s already implied in “throughout”.
  • He rose up and left the room. Ditch “up” as it is absurd to say “rise down.”
  • Iron sinks down in water. Leave out “down”.
  • He combined together these facts. Omit “together” as it’s implied in “combined”.
  • We could not forbear from doing it. Leave out “from”, or you may replace it with, “refrain from”.
  • I can do it equally as well as he. Using “equally” is superfluous. Leave it out.
  • Nobody else but him, should be, Nobody but him.
  • Before I do that, I must first be paid. Leave out “first”. Say, “Before I do that, I must be paid.”
  • My brother called on me, and we both took a walk. Leave out “both”, it is unnecessary.

I hope you find them helpful. I’ll keep updating this list.

Remember, sometimes “less is more”. :)

Coffee, Everyone?

We all probably need coffee or we’re all in peril dozing off in the face of inanity.

I was surprised I had to look up the meaning of ‘inane’ just to be sure of what Richard Mitchell meant in his foreword at “Less Than Words Can Say”. The last sentence made me drink my second cup of coffee on a mid-day:

“I am trying to stay awake.”

Previewing the chapters of his wake-up call book, two persistent facts resound. Let’s borrow his conclusion:

“The power of a language is related, therefore, to the size and subtlety of its lexicon, its bank of names and the flexibility and accuracy of its telling system, its grammar.”

Mitchell blames inanity to the poor education we get from public schools. We could all claim we were victims and deny we were culprits. Yet instead of passing the buck, we can strive to stay awake. Be responsible of our own speech and writing.

Let’s refine our vocabulary and respect grammar in saying what we mean.

Let’s help reduce the confusions this world rots of.