Recently in an episode of 'House of cards' they bring up the joke

"Two freshmen girls are moving into their dorm room together. One of them's from Georgia, one of them's from Connecticut. The girl from Connecticut's helping her mother put up curtains. Girl from Georgia turns to them and says, "Hi. Where y'all from?" Girl from Connecticut says, "We're from a place where we know not to end a sentence with a preposition." The girl from Georgia says, "Oh, beg my pardon. Where y'all from...cunt?"

Now, i suppose the punchline has something to do with the not-preposition, but what i don't get is why the Connecticut girl even considers that a sentence cannot end with a preposition? Is there any reason for stating that prepositions can't be on the end of a sentence? And if not, what is the punchline of this joke?

If this joke's punchline is not pertaining to English language or if this is not a grammatical joke, i'm sorry and will remove the question.

  • 2
    The joke is making fun of social status and language register which are exhibited by different grammatical rules. Also, the shock of a bad word.
    – Mitch
    Nov 11, 2014 at 3:23
  • And of course, the (ironic) definition of a preposition is "A word you mustn't end a sentence with"
    – AdamV
    Nov 11, 2014 at 14:15
  • How refreshing to see, for once, someone who has not been inculcated with the all too ubiquitous adage against ending sentences in prepositions! Nov 11, 2014 at 14:30
  • 1
    @Mitch If it's making fun of social status then am I right in thinking that, "I like how Southern belle there naturally fails to be intimidated or put down by Miss Bluestocking"? I'm asking because as a foreigner I'm tone-deaf to American social status.
    – ChrisW
    Nov 11, 2014 at 21:21
  • 1
    @ChrisW: not social status like Southern Belle or bluestocking (both of which are upper class ideas) rather just social status of south vs north, the north speaking the generally accepted 'standard' dialect and the south the less accepted more informal non-standard dialect. (of course in the north they end sentences with prepositions just as much too).
    – Mitch
    Nov 11, 2014 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


If you Google for "end sentence with preposition", you will get a ton of links, most of which will explain "one should not end a sentence with a preposition" is a mythical rule that in fact does not describe English usage, but is nevertheless sometimes (or even often) mistakenly quoted as fact.

This article tells a bit about the history of the rule - in short, that it started in 1672 with a certain John Dryden, who claimed it to be an abominable practice but never gave any indication why he thought so. It is generally considered to be applying Latin grammar rules to English text, which makes as much sense as a pancake on a bunny's head.

The joke is recognising this fact, and making fun of the pseudointellectual pedants who cite this "rule" seriously.


"Not ending a sentence with a preposition" is a rule that's embedded in a famous literary joke that's often wrongly attributed to Churchill, i.e. "this is the kind of tedious nonsense up with which I will not put".

Wikipedia's article about that 'rule' is titled Preposition stranding:

Preposition stranding, sometimes called P-stranding, is the syntactic construction in which a preposition with an object occurs somewhere other than immediately adjacent to its object

I think that's saying that, theoretically, Georgia girl should have said, "From where are y'all?" (or "From where did you come?").

Part of the joke is that it's apparently a rule that's made to be broken, i.e. "where are y'all from" is idiomatic (and friendly).

  • 1
    Or if you want to be really formal about it: "Whence are y'all?"
    – Jonny
    Nov 11, 2014 at 11:07
  • What I don't get is, I thought "y'all" was singular: i.e. you'd say it to one person. But [sic] there's Connecticut girl and her mother there, so it ought to be the plural, like, "Hi. Where all y'all from?"
    – ChrisW
    Nov 11, 2014 at 11:13
  • 1
    I believe that technically "Y'all" is plural (short for "you all"), however sometimes "all y'all" (="all you all") is used to re-enforce that it is plural.
    – Jonny
    Nov 11, 2014 at 11:22
  • 1
    "Y'all" can be singular or plural.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 11, 2014 at 21:04
  • Y'all is exclusively plural and treats the group as a single unit. All y'all treats each member individually. Cf. They and all of them. If you hear it sand think it's being used singularly, it's not — there's likely an implied group (say, your spouse/family/team/company) being included Oct 26, 2015 at 6:31

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