this is my first time posting here so excuse me if this is not the place to ask. I wanted to use the "She didn't want it to ever fade", but I'm not sure if this is grammatically proper. I have considered using "She didn't ever want it to fade" instead, but felt that in this case the meaning of "ever" includes the past, present and the future while in the previous example the meaning of "ever" is implied to only include the present and onwards. The meaning I'm going for is that of present and onwards because the thing spoken about (She didn't want it to fade) is a feeling previously unknown to the character, and thus including the past would not make sense. I have two questions then: 1. Is the sentence "She didn't want it to ever fade" grammatically proper? 2. Is there an (implied) difference in the meaning of the word 'ever' between "She didn't want it to ever fade" and "She didn't ever want it to fade"? I hope I had made myself clear, and I'll be happy to clarify if not.
- Is "to ever fade" grammatically proper?
Prescriptive style guides are usually fine with it. 18th century erudites like Samuel Johnson were known to dabble in it. This Grammar Girl post provides a fair summary of several grammarians. Even Strunk and White seem okay with split infinitives that improve the sentence's meaning. "To ever fade" is functioning much like other accepted split infinitves like "to boldly go" (Star Trek). So the split infinitive is not as much a matter of being proper as it is a matter of taste.
- What's the difference between your two examples?
The literal difference is what ever is modifying: want or fade.
"She didn't ever want it to fade"
Ever modifies the verb phrase did not want. In this sense, it is her desire that is unyielding.
"She didn't want it to ever fade"
Ever modifies the infinitive to fade. In this sense, the important idea is that it never fades.
Taking one more step with either example illustrates how close these two meanings are in practice. What did she not want to happen? It to ever fade. What about it never fading? She doesn't want that. Because most readers don't apply adverbs so strictly that it would affect the meaning here, what we're really debating is small shades of meaning. Either is reasonably clear.
I take your point about whether the items refer to the past, present, and future. I think the first one ("She didn't ever want it to fade") sounds more likely to come from a narrator poised to describe how one's mental state (what she wanted) persisted across time. I think the second one ("she didn't want it to ever fade") could come from any narrator, but would especially be appropriate for describing someone's then-current state. So I agree with you, with the caveat that this is a slim distinction.