WordPlay

To Be or To Not Be?

In Good Grammer: Them's the Rules on March 28, 2014 at 12:16 am

Some churches still have Latin masses, even though no one in the congregation understands the words. Shakespeare in the Park, similarly, still turns up on summer evenings all across America. Who knows why?

Well, Hamlet does provide us with the best-loved example of an un-split infinitive in English Literature: To be or not to be?

“To not be,” on the other hand, is a “split infinite,” unloved by English teachers since Shakespeare’s day.

I doubt it matters much, but I’d still avoid the split infinitive for old times’ sake.

 

-M.B.

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