Yuck! I hate the sound of “Where are you at?” Besides not really being proper English (although that doesn’t seem to really matter much anymore) it sounds like ‘70s street talk. That’s okay for ‘70s street-talkers but not for me.
I actually use both because there is to me a distinct difference. I will ask wife or kids…“where y’at?” as a desire just to casually check in to see where and what everybody is up to.
When I ask..“where are you?” it is because there is a higher level of concern because they are not where I expected them to be. There are also a myriad of voice inflections I can interject into the question to further convey my level of concern and one in particular that automatically conveys without saying I am not happy you did not call me to inform me of this departure from protocol.
Generally speaking its best to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition. That can’t be a hard and fast rule (as in NEVER) because there are exceptions where it makes sense.
However, this is not one of those cases. The primary reason for not using “at” in this instance is because it’s redundant.
Just plain “where are you?” needs nothing else to make it a complete sentence.
And that’s also a good rule of thumb to determine whether a preposition is necessary at the end or merely superfluous. If it makes sense without the use of the preposition then leave it alone.
(Just as a quick example of how this could apply in real life would be if you asked Diana Nyad “Where are you swimming to?”) Leaving off the preposition at the end changes the meaning of the inquiry significantly so is necessary rather than redundant.
But in most cases, a preposition ending a sentence is superfluous. It merely serves to make one sound unaware of normal grammar.
I agree with @Cruiser that there can be a distinct difference in meaning between Where are you? (referring to location) vs. Where are you at (meaning What’s your mental state?), but I think the latter sounds dated and a little silly.
Where are you, always where are you. “Where are you at” not only violates the (old and some say outdated) rule of not ended a sentence in a preposition, it is also redundant. I live in a part of the country where most people, from little kids from college professors add the at and every time I hear it I cringe.
A young woman who lived in the South was invited by her Harvard boyfriend to fly to Cambridge and attend a fancy party. She was all a-twitter, and being a very friendly person, at the party she sat next to a debutante and started talking to her. Soon she asked the elegant young woman, “Can you tell me what this fork is for?”
The young lady sneered at her and condescendingly said, “Up here, we don’t end sentences with prepositions.”
The Southern belle then said in her sweetest Southern accent, “Oh, I’m sorry! I am so sorry! Let me try again: Can you tell me what this fork is for…………….bitch?!”
Thus ends my lesson about an old fashioned and outdated grammar rule.
At least “where are you at?” is better than “where is you at?” LOL.
@Cruiser It’s funny how some broken grammar rules catch my attention and bother me, and other rules I break myself. I also found it funny that you admit to using the at in some situations, and that also in your neck of the woods was the first time I heard someone ask, “do you want to come with?” That sentence was missing a word in my opinion, but now I hear many many people use it. I guess Chicago-ese caught on a little over the years.
@JLeslie the funny thing about living in Chicago is whether you are a North Sider or South Sider will usually dictate the native dialect you employ…N = where are you at…S = where is you. Same with pronouncing Chicago. You know they are from out of town when they say “Chicahgo” and know they were born and raised here when they say Shicauwg-go”
Not sure this is particularly helpful, but I found this dialect survey. #52 is about this question. Here is another site that provides a different way to view what appears to be the same data. It allows you to drill down into cities or make the map clickable to get the stats in that area. Again, the question is #52.
@hominid Those maps mean to me that it doesn’t matter where you live, the numbers look fairly evenly spread for who uses the at and who doesn’t. Which begs the question if it is not reliant on region what is it? Education level, ethnicity, some other reason, random?
@JLeslie – Check out the second link, choose #52 and check out a few cities. Here in Massachusetts, I never hear “where are you at”. This survey seems to confirm that “where are you at” is not as common in my area. Compare that to the blue areas on the map.
I would imagine that this does have much to do with socioeconomic and ethnicity as well.
@hominid I just looked at the other link. Yes, that explains why I instinctively don’t use the at having been raised by people who were raised in The Bronx. LOL. That particular sentence still is sort of “all over the map” compared to some other word pronounciation and phrases.
Did you see the word merry on there? I glanced through and didn’t see it. I always joke that NYers say Mary, merry, and marry all differently while people in other states don’t, and don’t even hear the difference when I say them all differently.
Thanks. I love that link. :) You might know one of my favorite Q’s was my Q about how people pronounce things and use different phrases around the country. We probably had some people outside of the country to on it, I don’t remember.
Another one is pen. In TN I came across people who pronounce it pin. This girl (that actually is probably regional, I use girl often for adults, and I sometimes correct it to woman, because some people find it offensive) her name was Jenny, and she one day was complaining that some people pronounce her name Jinny. She could not understand why they have such a problem. I told her that living there in TN I noticed some people call a pen a pin, so I guess it is for the same reasons. She said, “I think I say pin.” LOL. How hard is it to see the connection? Not that there is always a rhyme or reason to pronounciation, but there usually is some consistency within the particular dialect.
@Cruiser I lived in Chicago until I was 12 before we moved South. I saw Shi-cah-go, but my parents say alternate between that and Shi-caw-go. I don’t care how people say it as long as they don’t pronounce the “s” in Illinois. Idiots.
Where I live now in South Carolina, we have a street called Huger, pronounced hew-gee. Drives me nuts when people that live here say hew-ger (g like in girl). But they have no problem pronouncing Gervais (jer-vay) correctly. Ugh, Southerners…
It depends on the person and circumstance. With my son or some of my friends, I might jokingly say, “Where you at?” on occasion (like that mobile phone commercial from several years ago – I seem to recall that you asked about this topic before and it was mentioned). However, I don’t think I would ever say, “Where are you at?”