Stop it; just stop it
One of our newer copy editors wonders about verbs, asking which is “more correct”:
Although they are probably second-guessing ... Although they probably are second-guessing ... I think "are probably" (and thus "are also," etc) is the better form, but it keeps getting changed when I flop it.
Score one for the tyro.* The former example is perfectly correct, and anyone who changes it to the latter is (a) mistaken and (b) wasting valuable time.
In idiomatic English, adverbs have typically fallen between the main verb and the auxiliary for centuries. Some authorities have mistakenly warned against “split verbs,” on the analogy with split infinitives. Of course, reputable authorities have repeatedly exploded the split infinitive superstition, and they have similarly dealt with the compound verb issue.
There you have it: Three sentences with four examples of splitting a compound verb in exactly the way that a native English speaker not corrupted by newspaper journalism would write or say.
From Theodore Bernstein’s Miss Thistlebottom’s Hobgoblins: The Careful Writer’s Guide to the Taboos, Bugbears and Outmoded Rules of English Usage (1971): “There is no rule in English that forbids separating the parts of a compound verb. Indeed, more often than not, the natural position for an adverb is just ahead of the main verb it modifies.” His example is “a plan that has been gradually evolving.”
From John Bremner’s Words on Words: A Dictionary for Writers and Others Who Care About Words (1980): “Splitting an infinitive should not be confused with splitting the parts of a compound verb, as in “I have often walked down this street before.” Those who would ban splitting a compound verb are even more antediluvian than the antisplitinfinitive troglodytes.”
Garner’s Modern American Usage (2003) includes “Never Split a Verb Phrase” as a sub-entry under the heading “SUPERSTITIONS” and quotes three other authorities, including Eric Partridge’s remark, “There is, however, a tendency to move an adverb from its rightful and natural position for inadequate reasons.”
I have been campaigning against this nonsensical warping of English at The Sun and in newsrooms around the country for more than a decade. Like General Grant, I propose to fight out on this line for as long as it takes.
* Tyro, novice, beginner, from the Latin (natch) tiro, or young soldier, recruit.