Over the course of the past 20 years, this author has become increasingly concerned by the fact that the common student has failed to master sufficiently one of the most basic English grammatical rules: not to split infinitives in his or her sentences.
This development has deeply troubled this observer, for this author does not know whether this trend is a product of a student not wanting not to split his or her infinitives, him or her not daring not to split his or her infinitives, or him or her displaying complete apathy concerning the declining frequency with which he or she remembers not to split infinitives. After all, this scholar believes that general society would agree that English speech in which one decides not to split infinitives is much clearer than that in which one decides to split haphazardly one’s infinitives.
In addition, this observer finds it worrisome that speakers and writers alike have begun to use the English language’s third-person plural pronouns, such as “they,” as generic third-person singular pronouns, in lieu of conventions such as “one,” or “he or she.” However, the author contends that each student should continue his or her utilization of the standard third-person singular constructions in his or her academic prose. This observer contends that, by using “they” as a generic third-person singular pronoun in his or her writing, each student risks discrediting himself or herself in academic contexts in which he or she might find himself or herself.
Thusly, the author would like to conclude finally by noting the author’s disdain for the growing prevalence of the practice of including first-person pronouns in academic speech. The author might assert that the author’s sterling academic reputation has resulted, in part, from his or her continued disuse of the first person in academic writings, including in this very piece. The author recognizes that some observers may disagree with this assessment on the part of the author, and thereby, the author him or herself would like to invite gladly any such critics of the author to a round of fisticuffs with the author following the author’s office hours at two o’clock, post meridiem, outside of Angell Hall.
Originally published: Apr 2013