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When is it okay to end a sentence in a preposition?

I see it a lot, even though my elementary teacher told me it is wrong. This is probably a new development, a sign that our language is in decay. Soon none of us will be able to understand each other. But this sloppiness is a disaster, up with which I will not put.

What are your own experiences with this terrible phenomenon? How may we roll it back? Should moderators strike out at such language abuse? What do you do to correct your friends, family, and colleagues? Do you leave them notes, too? Voice mails? Should all existing literature be corrected and republished as well, the old editions burned?

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marked as duplicate by Robusto, kiamlaluno, Hellion, waiwai933, Marthaª Apr 2 '11 at 5:03

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Isn't it the 2nd already where you live? – Marthaª Apr 2 '11 at 3:25
My favorite example of ending with five prepositions. Mother, what did you bring that book that I don't like to be read to out of up for? (Not my own, but I can't remember the reference.) – Spare Oom Apr 2 '11 at 3:29
possible duplicate of When is it okay to end a sentence in a preposition?. Sorry, @Cerberus, but I am voting to close this. Read @nohat's excellent response to the linked question. The prejudice against ending sentences with a preposition is a silly shibboleth that ought to die. I leave you with a quote from Robert Browning: “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?” Notice anything about the last word in that sentence? – Robusto Apr 2 '11 at 3:43
Y'all realize this is (1) an April Fool's question (2) posted by a, shall we say, tipsy 3-headed puppy? – Marthaª Apr 2 '11 at 4:57
@Martha: One hour ago was already April 2, for me. It should be April 2 for Cerberus, and in New York too. – kiamlaluno Apr 2 '11 at 5:01

I remember hearing the same rule. However, according to Oxford Dictionary and Wikipedia, there is no such rule. Sometimes insisting on placing the preposition anywhere other than at the end is very awkward. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_linguistic_example_sentences#Ending_sentence_with_preposition


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The reason it is or once was "grammatical taboo" was due to the concept of a prepositional phrase. When one has a prepositional phrase, a preposition is followed by a number of adjectives, and a noun which is the object of the prepositional phrase. If the preposition ends the sentence though, one has a prepositional phrase missing it's object -- which some consider(ed) to be an issue.

However, in modern English, (for the most part) this rule has gone the way of the dodo, just like the rule prohibiting split infinitives. I for one still generally try to avoid ending sentences with prepositions, because such sentences are generally better constructed with the preposition moved somewhere else. However, there are some constructs which can make it difficult to move the preposition elsewhere -- in which case I would simply leave it at the end.

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I think it's worth making clear that "in modern English" = "for at least half a millennium". Or put another way, for as long as people have been commenting seriously on the grammar of English, this has been a natural phenomenon of English syntax. So yes, people invented an artificial definition of "preposition" that ignored the actual data. Why one should care much about such a definition is not entirely clear... – Neil Coffey Apr 2 '11 at 4:43
@Neil: That's fair. I don't know much about the historical precedents for these things; only the reasons. – Billy ONeal Apr 2 '11 at 4:44

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