The grammar police won’t tell you what you can stop worrying about—but we will.
There are two things that once struck terror into the heart of every schoolboy:
The example everyone knows:
To boldly go where no man has gone before.
In 1948, the noir detective novelist Raymond Chandler wrote to Edward Weeks of the Atlantic Monthly about the editing of his work. “Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois, which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so that it will remain split.”
So go ahead—follow Chandler and Captain Kirk, explore new worlds of syntax, and breach grammar’s final frontier: split an infinitive. It’s a fake rule, dreamed up by schoolmasters who pretended that an infinitive—like “to go”—wasn’t really two words (because in Latin, their linguistic lodestar, it’s only one). The moral: split boldly and often.
Ending Sentences With Prepositions
The anti-example everyone knows:
This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.
Often attributed to Winston Churchill, commenting on some sentence in a document that clumsily attempted to avoid an ending with a preposition. This is another fake, Latin-based rule (it’s impossible, grammatically, to end a sentence with a preposition in Latin) that has nothing to do with the way English functions. Not to mention that trying very hard to avoid the issue is likely to make you sound stiff. Next time someone tries to lecture you—don’t give in!