Can you end a sentence with a preposition? Oh, the debates left in the wake of this one grammar question! You remember learning this in school, right? You had teachers drilling it into your head that you absolutely could not do such a thing. It just isn’t proper. But what if your teachers were (gasp!) wrong? What if the rule against ending a sentence with a preposition is just a myth?
So… can you end a sentence with a preposition?
Enough suspense! I won’t leave you hanging any longer. The answer is yes, you can end a sentence with a preposition!
So why did our teachers tell us never to commit such an English faux-pas?
In two words: language evolution.
The English language is constantly evolving. At one point, formal English was practiced and ending a sentence with a preposition was frowned upon. However, the modern usage of prepositions – and some new colloquialisms – have made that rule obsolete. Well, almost obsolete. I’ll get to some exceptions in a minute.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about concerning the way we speak today.
- Which floor did you walk on?
That sounds correct, doesn’t it? That’s because it is correct and used in everyday language. Now if we followed the “no preposition at the end of the sentence” rule, we would have to rewrite the sentence like this.
- On which floor did you walk?
Yikes! Now you sound like either a real snob or someone who has time-traveled from the sixteenth century. This is the main reason the rule no longer applies. We simply don’t speak that way any longer.
Here are a few more examples of common sentences with prepositions at the end. Some of these would be tough to rearrange.
- You are too much to put up with!
A worker like Alfred is hard to come by.
Who should I make the check out to?
We hoped she would cheer up.
As you can see, these are all commonly used sentences with prepositions at the end and they are all grammatically correct.
Are there any exceptions?
Even though grammar experts agree that it is OK to end a sentence with a preposition, they aren’t ready to fully give up the myth just yet. These same experts believe that in formal writing, you should avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.
Examples of formal writing would be a cover letter or a business plan. If you are writing to a potential employer or business associate, they may regard your grammar as subpar. So it is best to avoid using prepositions at the end of sentences for any of your formal writing. That way, they will see your stellar grammar and laud you as the genius that you are!
What are other grammatical conundrums you have questions about? Let us know in the comments, or ask our professional writing tutors!