Which of the following forms of verb is correct in the following context?

"When you slept yesterday, I tiptoed to the kitchen in order to not interrupt / interrupting you."

It'll be very helpful if you suggest a rule of thumb to solve by myself such dilemmas in future.

  • Are you perhaps being distracted by the syntactically irrelevant in order and/or negating not? The basic construction is the same as, for example, I work to earn money and I went to help. Is it not obvious to you that I work to earning money and I went to helping are badly-formed sentences? – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 29 '18 at 17:51
  • I think I got you. You basically say that the preposition "to" in this case functions as a component of infinitive such as to eat, to go, to drink, and so on. – Judicious Allure Dec 29 '18 at 18:04

The "to" is part of the infinitive "to interrupt," so "interrupting" is incorrect. Extreme grammar pedants would dislike even the "to not interrupt" version for being a split infinitive and insist on something like:

When you slept yesterday, I tiptoed to the kitchen in order not to interrupt you.

However, most modern grammarians don't really recognize the no-split-infinitive rule as valid since it's frequently violated in idiomatic spoken (and even written) English and was imposed artificially by scholars who wanted to insist that a two-word grammatical unit could not be interrupted.

  • Thank you for your answer. I thought about another possible version "When you slept yesterday, I tiptoed to the kitchen in order not interrupting you.". What do you think about this version (using gerund instead of "to+infinitive")? – Judicious Allure Dec 30 '18 at 1:48
  • I'm afraid that doesn't work - you always have to use the phrase in order to with an infinitive. That's just how this idiom is constructed. – Canadian Yankee Dec 30 '18 at 21:44

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