Pet peeve

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 31 07:56:03 UTC 2000

At 3:39 PM -0500 10/31/00, Herb Stahlke wrote:
>I haven't run into, or at least noticed, this aberration.
>However, as others will undoubtedly note, split infinitives are
>perfectly acceptable, another 18th c. prescriptivism surviving too
>long.  In "would change", by the way, "change" is an infinitive.
>Modals take unmarked infinitives.  The "to" is not what makes a
>form an infinitive.  It's just one way of marking that status.
>Herb Stahlke
Well, that's really a question of definition.  On some definitions,
I'm pretty sure the majority of them in both theoretical and
descriptive analyses, only the "to ____" forms are in fact
infinitives, the others--while non-finite--aren't.  (-ing forms, as
in present participles, are also non-finite but obviously not
infinitives, and likewise for imperatives and subjunctives.)  As for
the form that follows the modal, I've heard/seen that referred to as
the base form.  I don't believe "marked/unmarked infinitive" is
standard usage, although I would have no trouble if a particular
treatise explicitly defined them that way.


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