Thursday, April 18, 2013

Prepositions


(originally posted March 2012) ...



I was taught in high school (a gazillion years ago) to never end a sentence with a preposition. Okay. It requires effort, but it is very possible. Nonetheless, best-selling authors leaving those little critters at the end of sentences all the time.



Then I read Strunk & White (I know ... I quote their advice like it's the Bible):

"Years ago, students were warned not to end a sentence with a preposition; time, of course, has softened that rigid decree. Not only is the proposition acceptable at the end, sometimes it is more effective in that spot than anywhere else" (THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, pp.77-78).

What do you think?
Do you even care where writers place their prepositions?
Or do you just want to read a great plot?



18 comments:

  1. “Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put.” ~ Winston Churchill

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  2. I'll need to think about that. Not quite sure where you would end a sentence with a preposition. A proposition, on the other hand, can indeed end a sentence, or a date. He He.

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  3. Bahaha to the quote above! Love that one.

    I was taught to never end a sentence with a preposition, too, but it's a style choice now. I wonder if teachers still teach it, though??

    Prepositions at the end can be avoided, but sometimes it sounds so silly! It's better to end a sentence with a prep and have it make sense than to avoid it and have your reader wondering what the heck you just wrote!

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  4. Agreed - great quote above.

    To answer Geoff's question, first rewrite the quote above. It would read more smoothly as: Ending a sentence with a preposition is something I will not put up with.

    Otherwise, you could also write a sentence like (from THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE): "A claw hammer, not an ax, was the tool he murdered her with" (p.78).

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    1. Ok, I get you. I would more than likely use something like,with which in both cases, but that's just my way of writing. I'm sure I do use prepositions in the wrong places often enough but I think my sentences do make sense.

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  5. I'm one of those who notices prepositions at the end of sentences - and not in a good way. However, I have caught myself committing the crime. It depends on my writing audience whether I try to find a more 'correct' way of expressing the thought. I'm finding that most of my writing is casual and I have adopted some very casual habits even when I know better.

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  6. Sometimes, prepositions that end sentences actually function as adverbs and aren't wrong. (And it's all about communicating well, so if preposition works better at the end of a sentence, so be it.)

    I believe that in the history of grammar, prepositions "evolved" from adverbs. Yeah, I'm a grammar nut.

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  7. I love Winston Churchill's quote!

    I try to avoid ending sentences with prepositions, but when you have to, you have to.

    :D

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  8. I try to follow the rule of no prepositions at the end of a sentence but sometimes (usually in dialogue), it ends up sounding strange. So I'll allow my characters to do it.

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  9. The rule of never ending a sentence with a preposition was never a real grammar rule. The reason given was that in sentence diagramming, the preposition would just be left hanging there. But the diagramming serves us, not the other way around. In creative writing, go with what sounds best. In some formal presentations, it may be wiser to avoid it, since some tight-wigged people my suspect your level of learning.

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  10. I want a great plot. I can forgive the preposition rule breaker, especially because I break it all the time. :)

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  11. The preposition rule is a good guideline, but there certainly can be exceptions.

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  12. That's good to know. I feel guilty about my dangling prepositions.

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  13. I thought I had a good grasp of grammar when I started writing, but reading blogs made me realise how much I didn't know, so I've been teaching myself. I had to look up prepositions :-(

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  14. I try not to dangle those prepositions. These rules bring to mind a great aunt of mine who was a retired English teacher. She lived in a convent in St. Louis. One day I decided to write her a letter. She returned the letter to me with a note of thanks. She had kindly taken the time to use her faithful red pen to correct my grammatical errors!

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  15. Good news! I support this, although I agree it should be an exception. Sentence diagramming is its own beast; I agree it should serve us, although when I learned diagramming I felt more like its slave.

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  16. Well, for one, I'm relieved, but I generally avoid them at the end of sentences. (unless it's dialogue of course) Thanks for the post, Margo!

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