The Correct Use of Infinitive Verbs in Academic & Scientific English

The Correct Use of Infinitive Verbs in Academic & Scientific English
It was once considered completely inappropriate to split infinitives in formal, particularly scholarly writing in the English language, but the rules tend to be less strictly observed these days. In English text of virtually all kinds, from professionally published academic books to casual tweets, and among writers of all educational levels, split forms of infinitive verbs turn up with such frequency that it seems as though many of those writing in English today may not be aware of the structural nature of English verbs. Some style manuals no longer insist that split infinitives are true errors, so even the most careful and highly educated authors who might once have made an effort to avoid what is essentially an awkward construction often do not feel the need to reword their prose to respect the integrity of the infinitive. On the other hand, writers who persist in respecting that integrity whenever possible might be accused of splitting hairs in their attempts to write well, but better that, they would argue, than splitting infinitives.
Journal Editing ServicesJournal Article Editing Services
The infinitive forms of English verbs are rather odd because they consist of at least two words, whereas in most languages the infinitive of a verb is a single word. For example, the infinitive forms of the verbs that make up the famous Latin phrase ‘veni, vidi, vici,’ meaning ‘I came, I saw, I conquered,’ are ‘venire,’ ‘videre’ and ‘vincere.’ In English, however, the infinitives of verbs are formed by adding to the base word the preposition ‘to’ – ‘to come, to see, to conquer’ – and the two elements of the infinitive (‘to’ and ‘conquer’) represent one concept. Therefore, these two elements should no sooner be separated from each other in grammatically correct English writing than the ‘-ire’ or ‘-ere’ ending should be separated from the stem of one of the Latin infinitives.
PhD ThesisEditing Services
The usual culprit when an English infinitive is split is an adverb or adverbial phrase that is inserted between the two parts of the verb instead of before or after them. Perhaps the most famous example is ‘to boldly go,’ a phrase found in the original introduction to the television show Star Trek that some would argue has had a detrimental effect on more than one generation of English writers. Such split infinitives sometimes sound entirely natural because they are used daily in casual speech and informal written communications. Perhaps the increasingly common and casual nature of textual exchange has contributed to the widespread toleration of split infinitives, but it is important to be aware that some readers, including thesis and dissertation examiners and scholarly publishers, still consider split infinitives incorrect grammar. As an advanced student writing a professional document, it is therefore wise to keep your use of split infinitives to a bare minimum.

Split infinitives can easily be spotted while you carefully proofread your writing, and in many instances they can be repaired with a little rewording. A phrase such as ‘to successfully write a thesis,’ for example, can be rephrased to read ‘to write a thesis successfully.’ The changes will not always prove so simple, however, and in certain situations a sentence may need considerable rewriting to accommodate a necessary adverb or adverbial phrase more effectively. Making your best effort to adjust your text before deciding to retain a split infinitive will render those few instances in which you simply cannot rephrase in an appealing manner stand out as deliberate and necessary rather than the result of ignorance or grammatical laziness.

Why Our Editing and Proofreading Services?
At we offer the highest quality journal article editing, phd thesis editing and proofreading services via our large and extremely dedicated team of academic and scientific professionals. All of our proofreaders are native speakers of English who have earned their own postgraduate degrees, and their areas of specialisation cover such a wide range of disciplines that we are able to help our international clientele with research editing to improve and perfect all kinds of academic manuscripts for successful publication. Many of the carefully trained members of our expert editing and proofreading team work predominantly on articles intended for publication in scholarly journals, applying painstaking journal editing standards to ensure that the references and formatting used in each paper are in conformity with the journal’s instructions for authors and to correct any grammar, spelling, punctuation or simple typing errors. In this way, we enable our clients to report their research in the clear and accurate ways required to impress acquisitions proofreaders and achieve publication.

Our scientific proofreading services for the authors of a wide variety of scientific journal papers are especially popular, but we also offer manuscript proofreading services and have the experience and expertise to proofread and edit manuscripts in all scholarly disciplines, as well as beyond them. We have team members who specialise in medical proofreading services, and some of our experts dedicate their time exclusively to PhD proofreading and master’s proofreading, offering research students the opportunity to improve their use of formatting and language through the most exacting PhD thesis editing and dissertation proofreading practices. Whether you are preparing a conference paper for presentation, polishing a progress report to share with colleagues, or facing the daunting task of editing and perfecting any kind of scholarly document for publication, a qualified member of our professional team can provide invaluable assistance and give you greater confidence in your written work.

If you are in the process of preparing an article for an academic or scientific journal, or planning one for the near future, you may well be interested in a new book, Guide to Journal Publication, which is available on our Tips and Advice on Publishing Research in Journals website.

topbanner errow