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I would like to know whether this is correct:

He uses a car instead of a bus.

What does he use a car instead of?

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marked as duplicate by MετάEd, tchrist, Hellion, choster, p.s.w.g Jul 9 '13 at 19:30

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"Instead of what does he use a car?" sounds distorted and unnatural in my view - despite my aversion to "of" at the end of a sentence! –  TrevorD Jul 9 '13 at 12:31
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@TrevorD What aversion? CGEL reports: “All modern usage manuals, even the sternest and stuffiest, agree with descriptive and theoretical linguists on this: it would an absurdity to hold that someone who says What are you looking at? or What are you talking about? or Put this back where you got it from is not using English in a correct and normal way.” –  tchrist Jul 9 '13 at 12:41
    
Also is "Instead of what does he use a car" grammatical? –  user970696 Jul 9 '13 at 12:44
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@tchrist "What aversion?" - My aversion! I purposely avoided commenting on whether my aversion is logical, on whether the usage is correct, and on other prepositions. I suspect that we all have phrases that we don't like or which 'grate', irrespective of whether they are 'correct grammar'. Incidentally, I did also look for possible duplicates but couldn't find anything that seemed appropriate - you're no doubt a lot more familiar with what's on this site than I am. –  TrevorD Jul 9 '13 at 13:12

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Yes, that is perfectly fine. It is an instance of preposition stranding per Wikipedia:

Preposition stranding, sometimes called P-stranding or dangling, is the syntactic construction in which a preposition with an object occurs somewhere other than immediately adjacent to its object. (The preposition is then described as stranded, hanging or dangling.) This construction is widely found in Germanic languages, including English and the Scandinavian languages.

It then specifically points out Wh-movement as one of the places where this occurs, and gives the example of

What are you talking about?

For more about this see “An internet pilgrim’s guide to stranded prepositions” on the Language Log. Pay especial attention to the part about pied piping making for awkward and pretentious-sounding sentences.

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This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put ;) –  mplungjan Jul 9 '13 at 13:09
    
@ mplungjan I remember something about a terminological inexactitude, but not what its use was for the sake of. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 9 '13 at 15:43
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More on Pied Piping here. It's recursive, which makes it great fun a parties. –  John Lawler Jul 9 '13 at 15:53
    
Pied Piping? You'll be singing the praises of Sanity Clause next. –  Edwin Ashworth Jul 9 '13 at 22:26

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