Write Right: Prepositions

Write RightAs a general rule, prepositions shouldn’t end sentences. It’s allowed in informal writing and conversation, but entirely too many people have abused the rule. One of those people is Jennifer Hudson, who has a single entitled “Where You At?”

When Hudson released the single last year, she was taken to task for her abuse of the preposition rule not by the grammar snobs but by a gossip rag. The magazine stated, “Jennifer Hudson’s new single asks ‘Where You At.’ We’re ‘at’ a point where we’re sick of song titles that end with prepositions.” I laughed at the statement, but I found myself agreeing with it. I am, after all, the girl with the oversized red pen.

I know that prepositions are allowed in conversations and informal writing. I’m not such a stickler for the rules that I’m going to start restructuring commonly asked phrases such as “Where are you from?” Doing so would be awkward.

I still think, though, that sentences that end with a preposition tend to have a sense of emptiness. Prepositions presuppose an object. Without that object, the preposition is left dangling at the end of the sentence. It isn’t a nice place to be, as anyone who has been stood up will attest. Prepositions are meant to connect a noun or pronoun to another word in a sentence. When they don’t serve that purpose, they are lost, aimless.

In terms of deciding when and when not to end a sentence with a preposition, it’s helpful to consider two questions. One, will ending the sentence with a preposition help or hinder readability? Two, for whom and for what purpose is the article being written? Those answers will determine whether ending a sentence with a preposition is allowable, not some grammar snob’s rules or a celebrity’s status.

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  1. SteveMarch says:

    Yep! Couldn’t agree more!  The ending of sentences with prepositions has always been one of my pet peeves – although I agree that, as with every rule, there are times, places, and occasions for exceptions.  That said, why would you want to end a sentence with a preposition when trying hard to avoid it often gives you a perfect opportunity to sound like Yoda!?!  Hmmmmm!


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