In an enlightening article about grammar rules, O’Connor and Kellerman (2013) argued that ending a sentence with a preposition, splitting an infinitive (for which I am famous), and beginning a sentence with a conjunction are not necessarily wrong practices. The authors stated that an infinitive cannot be split because “to” is not involved in the infinitive, so it is not split. O’Connor and Kellerman (2013) noted that authors such as Wordsworth and Shakespeare often used adverbs between “to” and infinitives.
Questioning where these rules originated, the authors concluded that Latinists placed Latin rules on the English language, where they do not belong. For example, in 1762, Robert Lowth, an Anglican bishop, wrote about not ending sentences with a preposition. In 1864, the dean of Canterbury Cathedral, Henry Alford, warned against split infinitives (O’Connor & Kellerman, 2013). These practices do not take place in Latin, but they have in English for centuries. As for beginning a sentence with a conjunction, the authors contended that, according to Arnold Zwicky (Professor of Linguistics), English teachers probably created this rule to stop students from beginning so many sentences with the word “and.”
O’Connor and Kellerman are former New York Times editors and bloggers at Grammarphobia.com. They advised that if a sentence sounds stiff and unnatural, it is probably not correct because you are trying to obey these questionable rules. Your English instructors may not agree with the authors’ assessments, but as a writer and English instructor, I can understand the premise of this article. “Where are the glasses that I came in here with?” sounds a lot more natural than “Where are the glasses with which I came in here?”
O’Connor, P. & Kellerman, S. (2013, February). Write and Wrong. Smithsonian, 43(10), 24.