Sentences ending with a preposition?


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Thread: Sentences ending with a preposition?

  1. #1

    Sentences ending with a preposition?

    'Word' grammar guide keeps pulling me up on 'End-of-sentence preposition'. Having reached for my Strunk & White, I find an Index reference for this occurrence but no explanation or even mention on the 'ruling'.

    This is the latest culprit I have been wrist-slapped for. (for which I have been wrist-slapped)



    A) I let her chatter away whilst I tried to interpret her grip on my arm and the level of closeness she had decided upon.

    Perhaps I should change it to this?

    B) I let her chatter away whilst I tried to interpret her grip on my arm and the level of closeness upon which she had decided.

    Or capitulate, and settle for this?C) I let her chatter away whilst I tried to interpret her grip on my arm and the level of closeness she had chosen.

  2. #2
    If it's grammar software that's marking these up, I'd look at turning it off. There's nothing wrong with ending a sentence with a preposition, and most rules who say it is, it's talking about the academic register, not fiction or naturally occurring language. Stunk & White suggests you're American. The following is an article from Oxford Dictionary, but it also applies to American Eng. Ending sentences with a preposition.

    Saying that, with fiction, it's a good idea to relax your style as much as possible. B carries a formality to it. A suggestion could be: I let her chatter away whilst I tried to interpret her grip on my arm and her chosen level of closeness.
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  3. #3
    Here's a reference to the well-known example attributed to Winston Churchill which I found on the Washington State University website, so that source straddles the Atlantic nicely.

    http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/churchill.html
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  4. #4
    I feel it is a bit like starting a sentence with a conjunction, enough people do it nowadays that it is becoming acceptable to many. I would not do it personally though, because I know there will also be a significant number of people for whom it will be a 'catch' and I do not want to interrupt the flow for them.
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  5. #5
    WF Veteran Bloggsworth's Avatar
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    To quote: "Up with that I will not put."
    A man in possession of a wooden spoon must be in want of a pot to stir.

  6. #6
    "Up with that I will not put." (Churchill probably)

    "Put up with that I shall not." (Yoda maybe)
    'Sharing an experience creates a reality.' Create a new reality today.
    'There has to be some give and take.' If I can take my time I'm willing to give it.
    'The most difficult criticism that a writer has to comprehend is silence.' So speak up.

  7. #7
    The best example I ever read about (I've used this before, so, sorry if it's redundant to some of you): A writer was reminiscing in Writer's Digest magazine many years ago. He told the story of riding along with his father -- an under educated man, but a natural story-teller -- as his father drove a truck making deliveries around Cambridge, Massachusetts. One day he needed to make a delivery to a building on the campus of Harvard University. He'd been told the building was along the Charles River. Not being able to find his way to the river through the campus -- the older man was not familiar with the grounds of the school -- he stopped and asked a passing student, "Can you tell me where the Charles River is at?"

    To which the student replied, with disdain, "At Harvard we never end a sentence with a preposition."

    "Oh! I see. Beggin' your pardon. Can you tell me where the Charles River is at, asshole?"
    “Fools” said I, “You do not know
    Silence like a cancer grows
    Hear my words that I might teach you
    Take my arms that I might reach you”
    But my words like silent raindrops fell
    And echoed in the wells of silence : Simon & Garfunkel


    Those who enjoy stirring the chamber-pot should be required to lick the spoon.

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  8. #8
    From an earlier thread:

    There’s no necessity to ban prepositions from the end of sentences. Ending a sentence with a preposition is a perfectly natural part of the structure of modern English. ...

    The word ‘preposition’ ultimately derives from Latin prae ‘before’ and ponere ’to place’. In Latin grammar, the rule is that a preposition should always precede the prepositional object that it is linked with: it is never placed after it. ...

    English is not Latin, however, and contemporary authorities do not try to shoehorn it into the Latin model.


    Oxford Dictionaries


    (Sources: Ending Sentences with Prepositions; Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?)


    So, yes, you can safely (and correctly) end your sentences with prepositions.

    . . . Well, unless you're writing in Latin.

  9. #9
    If you're planning on writing in Latin, the rule is hard and fast. There was a time when that was good enough reason apply it in English. That being said, terminal prepositions in English are often redundant or meaningless or merely idiomatic, and, as you point out here, easily avoided.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. Steven Wright

  10. #10
    In my highly formal professional writing, I avoid ending sentences with prepositions. In my writing of a more casual and creative bent, I don't sweat it.
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