xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Last week at the national conference of ACES: The Society for Editing, Paula Froke, editor of the Associated Press Stylebook, asked a question during the announcement of new stylebook entries:

"John McIntyre, what's the stupidest rule in the AP Stylebook?"

Advertisement

"The split-verb entry," I answered.

"No longer," she said.

Advertisement
Advertisement

"YES!" I shouted, thrusting my fist into the air.

Those of you who are unaccountably unacquainted with my years-long trench war against this idiotic bogus rule may require an explanation. The "verb" entry in the stylebook not only sustained the superstition that the particle and the root verb in an infinitive must not be dissevered, but extended it to the utterly unfounded belief that one must not allow an adverb to come between an auxiliary verb and the main verb.

I've had a brief online discussion with a gentleman who believes that Latin-dazed eighteenth-century grammarians were entirely correct in insisting that the particle and root verb are an unbreakable unit. I don't intend to discuss the matter with him further, since disputes over religious beliefs are idle.

The no-adverb-between-auxiliary-and-main-verb superstition is, I believe, a bit of non-idiomatic English still widely taught in journalism schools.

Advertisement

Since I still see editors whingeing over the stylebook's dropping the equally unfounded and idiotic over/more than distinction, it's likely that the change in the "verb" entry will be little heeded. "We know y'all are just going to go ahead and do what you want to do," Paula Froke told the audience about another style change.

But though the war against ignorance will not be won, it must be waged.

An afterthought: Did you notice, as you were reading this, the sentences in which an adverb fell between the auxiliary and main verb? I rest my case.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement