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On writing: Raymond Chandler

Tony Rossiter explores great words from great writers

When I was at school, splitting an infinitive was almost a hanging offence. If I had written, say, to really understand rather than really to understand I would have been in serious trouble with my English master. It was one of those rules of syntax – like never beginning a sentence with a conjunction and never ending one with a preposition – that were regarded as sacrosanct. That split infinitive taboo often led to putting adverbs in awkward and unnatural positions that compromised clarity and grated on the ear.

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