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From split-infinitive terror to unsplit error

[10 July 2013] Yes, there are still folk out there, including journalists, who worry so much about the supposed error of splitting an infinitive that they commit the kind of sin shown in this sentence from The Times (5 June) about a plane’s emergency landing at Heathrow:

‘Accident investigators revealed last week that BA maintenance workers failed properly to complete basic checks on the A319 jet at its Heathrow engineering facilities.’

So they failed properly, did they, the proper Charlies? How could they have failed improperly – made lewd gestures as they greased their nuts?

All this to avoid writing the much more natural, but infinitive-splitting, ‘BA maintenance workers failed to properly complete basic checks...’.

As gymnasts know, doing the splits can be a very good exercise.

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