The purists feel this is an absolutely verboten practice. Since I’m a member of the paramilitary wing of the Grammar Police Force, I should be with them all the way. But I’m not.

The GPF are of the opinion there are no circumstances in which it is acceptable to split an infinitive, and jeer mercilessly at the Star Trek error of to boldly go. I don’t think it matters too much, and in this I’m not alone, since no lesser personage than George Bernard Shaw thought the same way. Additionally, there are some occasions when splitting the infinitive is a useful aid to comprehension, removing as it does an element of uncertainty.

My ever popular series of urban survival guides is a good place to start. Let’s imagine I wrote one about being a motorist and keeping your eyes peeled for cyclists. Now, I could title it thus: How not to kill a cyclist. Anybody else feel this is a bit ambiguous? In that form, there’s a hint that there’s a right way to kill a cyclist, and a wrong way to kill a cyclist. Or perhaps it’s just the way my mind works.

However it is, I can easily make things very clear by writing How to not kill a cyclist. This plainly means that these are the things to do to avoid a cycling fatality.

I feel honour bound to mention that under no circumstance would I write about not killing skateboarders, since they’re the bane of my life. If I did embark on the topic though, I’d title it: How not to kill a skateboarder. This leaves me the option of addressing in painstaking detail how to overcome the problems that you may encounter in getting it right first shot. After all, I don’t want you to inflict a mere flesh wound, do I?