Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day: Superstitions(3)

Today: “Never Split a Verb Phrase.” o “In a compound verb (‘have seen’) with an adverb, that adverb comes between the auxiliary and the participle (‘I have never seen her’); or, if there are two or more auxiliaries, immediately after the first auxiliary (‘I have always been intending to go to Paris’); that order is changed only to obtain emphasis, as in ‘I never have seen her’ (with stress on ‘have’) . . . . There is, however, a tendency to move an adverb from its rightful and natural position for inadequate reasons, as in ‘Oxford must heartily be congratulated.'” Eric Partridge, Usage & Abusage 224 (1942). o “Because of their misconception as to what a split infinitive really is, some have reached the erroneous conclusion that an adverbial modifier must never be placed between parts of a compound verb phrase, with the result that they write in such an eccentric style as ‘I greatly have been disappointed’ instead of writing naturally ‘I have been greatly disappointed.'” R.W. Pence & D.W. Emery, A Grammar of Present-Day English 320 n.69 (1963). o “With a compound verb — that is, one made with an auxiliary and a main verb — the adverb comes between auxiliary and main verb (‘He will probably telephone before starting’ / ‘I have often had that thought myself’ / ‘The clock is consistently losing five minutes a day’).” Wilson Follett, Modern American Usage 53 (1966). See GMAU, “Adverbs (A).” Next: “Never Begin a Sentence with ‘And’ or ‘But.'” For information about the Language-Change Index click here. ——————– Quotation of the Day: “Perhaps the most plausible explanation lies in the familiar desire of younger teachers to regurgitate undigested fragments of what they have swallowed in the course of their education.” Karl Dykema, “Where Our Grammar Came From,” in A Linguistics Reader 139, 141 (Graham Wilson ed., 1967).
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