A few weeks ago I had to write a very delicate business e-mail. I was going along fine–it had taken me a couple hours, but I felt good about what I’d written–when all of a sudden I stopped short in the middle of the last sentence.
I tentatively typed seven words to finish the sentence. It didn’t work. It was grammatically correct, but it meant something very slightly different that what I needed to convey.
I moved one of the words to another position in the sentence. It still didn’t express my meaning exactly. And the sentence really was a vital part of the communication.
So I took a deep breath, moved the word I’d moved before to yet another position, read the paragraph over to confirm that the sentence now conveyed exactly what I needed to say, closed my eyes, and clicked send.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the story of the first time I split an infinitive.
I haven’t quite recovered yet.