Tag Archives: prepositions

Prepositions

First of all, feel free to end a sentence with a preposition, despite what your 7th grade English teacher may have told you. If you don’t, certain sentences may sound very strange or overly formal: With whom are you going to the prom?  Go ahead and ask who your friend is going to the prom with.

When I taught English as a second language, it soon became apparent that prepositions were the most difficult part of speech for my immigrant students to use correctly, no matter their native language. Do you stand in line or on line? Are you bored of a movie or bored by it? No rule exists to tell you which preposition is correct; most times you just have to memorize them in the situations in which they belong — or for the situations they belong in. (I just ended another sentence with a preposition.)

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Ending Sentences With Prepositions

I’m often asked if it’s OK to end sentences with prepositions. The answer is definitely YES. The injunction against doing so comes originally from a Latin construction, but no reason exists not to end sentences with prepositions in English.

Someone recently asked me, “Would you write, ‘Where is the library at?'” Of course I wouldn’t. I would ask, “Where is the library?” That “at” serves no purpose because the word “where” is already asking for location. 

Would you ask, “Who was that person with whom I saw you?” I very much doubt it; instead, you’d rephrase the sentence to say, “Who was that person I saw you with.”  As  you can see, ending sentences with prepositions often makes sense, sounds more natural, and will keep you from sounding like a grammar pedant. 

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