Let’s go myth-busting!

Debunking two age-old grammar myths

Grammar Myth #1: It’s wrong to end a sentence with a preposition.

Despite what many teachers, Grammar Nazis, pedants, purists, and prescriptivists claim, it is acceptable to end sentences with prepositions. In some cases, a preposition might be the most natural word to end a sentence with.

People who allow this myth to perpetuate would insist that the following sentences are incorrect:

To avoid ending the above sentences with prepositions, they would undoubtedly rewrite them in the following way:

Although the revised versions are perfectly correct, they sound rigid, unnatural, and … pedantic. The first three examples (which end with prepositions) are much more natural.

Those who make a show of exposing and condemning sentences that end with prepositions should bear in mind that they will likely become the butt of many jokes, as in the following examples:

Grammar Myth #2: It’s wrong to split infinitives.

We can also split infinitives by inserting “not” between “to” and the verb, e.g., to not eat, to not go, to not break.

Again, some people make big fuss about splitting infinitives, but most experts do not. Apparently, the aversion for split infinitives originates from a comparison with the structure of Latin. However, people have been splitting infinitives for centuries, especially in spoken English.

The most famous example of a split infinitive is an indelible part of pop culture.

If your instructor adamantly insists that split infinitives are incorrect and threatens to deduct points from your writing if you continue to use them, abide by his or her rules and simply put the adverb behind the verb (or “not” in front of “to”). It will be a much easier task than trying to persuade someone who has held a certain belief for (likely) decades.

Spock clearly doesn’t seem amused that we are making light of an age-old grammar myth; your instructors who adhere to the idea that split infinitives are wrong won’t find it funny either.

In closing, let’s be less antagonistic toward people who split infinitives or end sentences with prepositions.