And if you like to end your sentences with a succinct with, go right ahead and keep doing so—just don’t quote Winston Churchill when someone says that you shouldn’t. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better. If you would like to listen to the audio, please use Google Chrome or Firefox. Unlike apostrophe usage, however, sticking closely to the preposition rule can sometimes make sentences clunky or confusing. Study Up With Our Official SCRABBLE Dictionary. → On what did you put it? I can hear some of you gnashing your teeth right now, while you think, “What about saying, 'On what did you step? Problem 3: Ending sentences with prepositions. I know many of you were taught that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition, but it’s a myth. No, it must not. In reality, it is fine to end a sentence with a preposition, as long as the preposition is necessary to the meaning of the sentence. It sure got mine. In the 18th century, a number of people who liked telling other people that they were wrong decided Dryden was correct and began advising against the terminal preposition. However, by the time the 20th century rolled around most grammar and usage guides had come to the conclusion that there was really nothing wrong with terminal prepositions. Supposedly an editor had clumsily rearranged one of Churchill’s sentences to avoid ending it in a preposition, and the Prime Minister, very proud of his style, scribbled this note in reply: “This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” The American Heritage Book of English Usage agrees. Trying to rephrase a sentence such as “There is nothing to be afraid of” so that you can avoid ending it with a preposition will leave you with an alternative that is less than ideal: “There is nothing of which to be afraid” strikes one as too formal, too far removed from conventional language, even that of academic prose. You can end a sentence with a preposition. Oh, so that’s what I stepped in. Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free! One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is whether it’s acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition. A preposition is a word that creates a relationship between other words. Biden projected 46th President. The truth is that including a preposition at the end of a sentence is not always bad grammar. Subscribe. monolith This is the sort of nonsense up with which I will not put. And then there are some prohibitions which have a curiously tenacious ability to stick around (such as not beginning a sentence with and), in defiance of common sense, grammar experts, and the way that actual people use the English language. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Latin grammar rules were applied to the English language. Prepositions generally establish a relationship between other words or clauses, such as a relationship in time or position, an explanation of how something is done, the reason behind something, or possession (above, after, beneath, beside, during, for, with, up, etc.). Then there are those who get it so scrambled it comes out backward: I checked the indexes of a dozen Churchill biographies, but none of them had an entry for “prepositions.”. OTHER SENTENCES ENDING WITH A PREPOSITION Again, nothing is wrong with these sentences, but that is not to say that you won't be forced to rearrange them to avoid a preposition at the end of a sentence. So, you're ending a sentence with a preposition; and now you're wondering if it's grammatically correct to do so. However, it's unlikely that he ever said such a thing. For example, in the sentence, “What are you thinking of?,” the preposition “of” is not necessary because it does not add meaning to the sentence. "Is he not a Novice," Fox wrote, "and Unmannerly, and an Ideot, and a Fool, that speaks You to one, which is not to be spoken to a singular, but to many?" In fact, I consider it one of the top ten grammar myths because many people believe it’s true, but nearly all grammarians disagree, at least in some cases (1, 2 There are theories that the false rule originates with the early usage guides of Joshua Poole and John Dryden, who were trying to align the language with Latin, but there is no reason to suggest ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong. It would have been fine to ask, “What are you thinking?” However, if moving the sentence around to avoid ending it in a preposition becomes too formal sounding, stick with the preposition at the end. Compare: This is a problem I have not thought of. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. Whistleblower changes tune, again, president-elect However, it is still best to try to conform to this rule if it does not alter clarity, particularly in professional and academic writing. Prepositions often deal with time and location, such as “behind,” “after,” or “over.”, It's useful to have a go-to rule for determining whether a given word is a preposition. Yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition, Set your young readers up for lifelong success. It should be, "Here's where we are". Niccolò Machiavelli: The Prince (1532 CE), Operas in MMR at Holland/New Library, Washington State University. Perhaps the most notable example of such is the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition (also known as preposition stranding, or sentence-terminal prepositions, for those of you who would like to impress/alienate your friends). So before I lose you, let's back up. Delivered to your inbox! Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put. The issue with ending a sentence with a preposition is more a matter of style or rhetoric than grammar. If it wasn't done on purpose, I would suggest Patrick go back to English Grammar 101 before he writes his next column. As an Amazon Associate and a Bookshop.org Affiliate, QDT earns from qualifying purchases. George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, was so upset that people were using you (instead of thou) to address a single person that in 1660 he wrote an entire book about it. → From where did these people come? But, not for all. '” But really, have you ever heard anyone talk that way? What did you put it on? The matter must therefore be settled, mustn’t it? Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." Sometimes, the advice was to not end a sentence with a preposition. Why do both editorial and letter writers have to flagrantly split the infinitive? It would have been fine to ask, “What are you thinking?” However, if moving the sentence around to avoid ending it in a preposition becomes too formal sounding, stick with the preposition at the end. Is it ever OK to end a sentence with a preposition? If, in the process of avoiding ending a sentence with a preposition, the sentence begins to sound awkward, overly formal, or confusing, then it's acceptable to ignore the preposition rule. For instance, Noah Webster, in his 1784 book on grammar, took care to advise against separating prepositions "from the words which they govern." If you would like to listen to the audio, please use Google Chrome or Firefox. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Introduction to Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases, Rules for Ending a Sentence With a Preposition, Understanding the Types of Verbs in English Grammar, Prepositions: Small and Mighty Words That Drive French Sentences, Definition and Examples of Function Words in English. And lastly, ending a sentence with a preposition is something we can do without!
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