Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

Writing Tips

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

While growing up, I was taught never to end a sentence with a preposition. NEVER. That was a big no, no. But why?

What are Prepositions?

Prepositions are words that express a relationship to another word in the same sentence. They usually tell you where something is or when something happened.

Examples:

  1. He walked into the room.
  2. The tree towered above the field.
  3. The chicken came after the egg.

Where Did This Rule Come From?

Let’s take a minute to look at how this rule came about. Not ending a sentence with a preposition is a rule that many grammar aficionados believe came from 18thcentury Latin grammar. That’s 300 years ago! If you follow my blog, you will recall that I have explained grammar changes over time. Three hundred years is a long time for this rule not to change. Others think the rule is simply a myth and was never really a rule at all.

English is Flexible

As I mentioned earlier, English is flexible, and today, most writers and editors agree that this rule (or myth) can be broken. When speaking, ending sentences with a preposition sounds perfectly natural. And, we are told to write how we speak, so why wouldn’t we end sentences with a preposition when we write?

Examples:

  1. What did you step on? It be awkward to say: On what did you step?
  2. The game was rained out. We would not say: The game was out because of the rain.

Even Winston Churchill Balked at the Rule

It is said when reprimanded for ending a sentence with a preposition, Winston Churchill retorted with, “That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put.”

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