This is the last of the William Safire writing “rules” for me. I’ve had such fun considering them. We all know how bogus this one is, right? Every since Star Trek: To boldly go where no (man/one) has gone before. The latter, “one,” for Next Generation, since they finally realized that there were women along and they hadn’t been there before either.
I’ve read that the origin of rules like this stem from Latin scholars, or maybe just snobs. It’s impossible to split an infinitive in Latin, since they are only one word. Esse, amare, videre, regere, audire (to be, to love, to see, to rule, to hear). Okay, but just because you can’t split them in Latin, doesn’t mean you can’t split them in English. Ours are TWO words. You can always split two words. I’m always eager to find places to happily break this rule. Which, it seems, never was a rule.*
Go ahead, cleave those infinitives, if it makes sense in your context!
axe photo from morguefile.com