General Question

gimmedat's avatar

Why don't people know not to end sentences with prepositions?

Asked by gimmedat (3943points) April 7th, 2008 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

35 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

Why does it matter?

ladytmerie's avatar

Is this a rhetorical question?

gimmedat's avatar

No, just one of those little things that bugs me. I’m not preoccupied with it or anything, it’s just one of those things. Poor grammar just bugs me.

nikipedia's avatar

Language is fluid and constantly evolving. I would try not to get hung up on rules like that.

jrpowell's avatar

What is a preposition?

Allie's avatar

johnpowell: i think its what the mouse can do to the cheese, right? (climb on the cheese, go in the cheese)

edit after reading gailcalled’s answer: oh… maybe not. =/

gailcalled's avatar

Winston Churchill make a famous joke about this very subject. He said “This is something up with which I will not put,” thereby avoiding the preposition at the end.

This is something I will not put up *with.

*preposition

gimmedat's avatar

Amended annoyance…ending sentences with “at” ;)

Allie's avatar

gimmedat: like that cell phone commercial. “where you at?” everytime i see that commercial i think up a prissy response to myself. “i am currently located in the food preparation room of my rather large mansion.” =]

gailcalled's avatar

@Allie; “in” and “on” are perfectly fine prepositions. The mouse went to the movies with the cheese.

Allie's avatar

gailcalled: oh ok. thanks. for a second there i thought i was not smarter than a fifth grader. ;-]

bulbatron9's avatar

@gail I know english is your thing, and I don’t even know the proper use of the comma! So, is this question ended with a prepositional phrase, or no? Please explain!

By the way, I am not smarter than a fifth grader!

bulbatron9's avatar

Also, is that a double negative – Why don’t people know not to end sentences with prepositions? Don’t, being a contraction of do not! It can be read as “Why do not people know not to end sentences with prepositions?

I really want to know!

gailcalled's avatar

@allie; you are pushing me to the limit (where is cwilbur when I need him?) but here goes. (“with a prepositional phrase” is, indeed, a prepositional phrase at the end of a sentence. And, “with a prepositional phrase” becomes the direct object of “is ended.”

Now, on to the not nots. Sentence would work as “Why do people know not to end sentences with prepositions.” About “Why do not people know not….” seems awkward, but I’m not sure whether it is incorrect. However, I really like “gimmedat.”

Allie's avatar

gailcalled: what? why am i pushing you to the limit? =/

bulbatron9's avatar

@Allie Maybe it has something to do with your user-name being the only thing capitalized in your sentences, but that is just a guess!

gailcalled's avatar

I used to parse sentences in 5th and 6th grades, but haven’t thought of the really technical terms in a long time.

@Bulb; Sorry, say again. My username looks to be lower case to me.

gailcalled's avatar

Good-night, Gracie.

Rachelskirts's avatar

It’s actually not as mandatory as most people make it out to be. Grammar Girl recently had a great article (link) discussing this “grammar myth.” In the comments, Jack Drolet notes that “this silly idea comes from early 20th century grammarians who for some reason thought that it made sense to apply rules from Latin to English.” Those who make a habit of ending sentences with prepositions still annoy me, though. :)

bulbatron9's avatar

@gail My username is lower case, too! I meant did her shift key brake, because “Allie”, her username, is capitalized.

No offense toward anyone!

I Love everyone on fluther, and wish them the best!

Angelina's avatar

Great Winston Churchill quote:

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

syz's avatar

Ok, I have to go home and look up the book, but I read something recently on the english language that addressed the preposition question. Apparently that rule was somewhat officiously made by a minor church official who just decided that he should be able to set the standard. Much of the rest of his writing was, shall we say, eccentric. Sorry, guys, I’ll try to find the reference tonight.

gailcalled's avatar

@Anglina; I wonder whether you noticed the seventh answer to this question?

cwilbur's avatar

When you end a sentence with a preposition, it ceases being a preposition (pre = “before”, positus = “placed”) and starts being an adverbial particle.

Rachelskirts's avatar

@syz: A quick Google search brings up the name and information you referenced.

We can blame an 18th-century English clergyman named Robert Lowth for this one. He wrote the first grammar book saying a preposition (a positioning word, like at, by, for, into, off, on, out, over, to, under, up, with) shouldn’t go at the end of a sentence. This idea caught on, even though great literature from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Milton is bristling with sentences ending with prepositions. Nobody knows just why the notion stuck—possibly because it’s closer to Latin grammar, or perhaps because the word “preposition” means “position before,” which seemed to mean that a preposition can’t come last.

Source: GrammarPhobia (link)

jaeger's avatar

Out of habit, I used to avoid ending sentences with prepositions. After listening to the afore-mentioned Grammar Girl episode, I welcomed the idea of not having to worry about it. So what if it turns out to be untrue – it is cumbersome.

syz's avatar

Thanks, Rachelskirts. I was gonna do it the old fashioned way, but that works.

Rachelskirts's avatar

@syz: I coincidentally happened to see that information on GrammarPhobia a week ago, so I thought I’d save you some trouble. :)

Angelina's avatar

@gailcalled. I read the question and answers, remembered that Churchill said something funny about prepositions, went and googled the quote to make sure I got it right, and then posted it. I guess you must’ve posted the quote in the meantime, while I was googling. So it wasn’t a situation where I ignored the previous commenters by neglecting to read the thread.

gailcalled's avatar

@Angelina;My apologies.

Angelina's avatar

@gailcalled. No worries.

gailcalled's avatar

I have become supergrumpy with some of the fatuous and inane answers and meaningless comments of the newest newcomers. Didn’t mean to jump on you. G

AstroChuck's avatar

Because it is not incorrect to end in a preposition. This is just an often heard but misleading “rule.’ This transferred from Latin, where it is an accurate description of practice. But English grammar is different from Latin grammar, and the rule does not fit English.
So there.

tigress3681's avatar

People don’t know not to do it, because it doesn’t actually matter. I do not know if what @AstroChuck said is true or not but what I do know is that language is constantly evolving, becoming better usually and sometimes worse at getting a point across. Notice the example below, which illustrates both the reduced length associated with ending with a preposition and the fact that both get the point of using blue or black ink across clearly. I believe that using prepositions at the end is more a class issue than a correctness issue, in much the same way as perhaps speaking in iambic pentameter might be.

Make sure the pen with which you write has blue or black ink.
vs
Make sure the pen you write with has blue or black ink.

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