Usage and Grammar

Q. As editors of a Buddhist magazine, we made the decision some time ago not to split verb phrases, since we want a more formal, literary style. Thus, we write: “In order to gain wisdom, one must carry out the Buddhist practice consistently.” Some readers have complained, saying our writing style is too stodgy. They would prefer, “In order to gain wisdom, one must consistently carry out the Buddhist practice.” I’ve noticed that many newspapers and magazines still avoid splitting verb phrases. Does CMOS have a position on this issue?

A. CMOS does: please see paragraphs 5.104 and 5.171. The idea that verb phrases cannot be split in this way is quite mistaken, and there is no reason to arbitrarily avoid it.