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I do not like using the phrase "remember all that we are thankful for" because of the preposition at the end; however, it is a common phrase at this time of year. Finagling the sentence to avoid ending with the preposition (e.g., "remember all for which we are thankful") is awkward. An alternative that works and comes close to meaning the same thing is "remember all the reasons to be thankful." However, that puts the focus on "reasons" as opposed to the things you may want to emphasize, which is different. My question: Which is the lesser evil, ending with a preposition, or a construction that sounds a little awkward because most of us would never say it that way in conversation?

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The more I consider this, the more I feel that a preposition at the end of a sentence is OK as long as there isn't a better way to write the sentence. (Isn't that usually the case?) For example, "Where is your bathroom at" is incorrect because of the use of an excess word (it would be just as clear to say, "Where is your bathroom?") as much as it's incorrect because of the proposition at the end. Perhaps that is the real reason for the "rule"--to force us not to tack on words that aren't needed.

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  • Thank goodness there is ALWAYS a better way to write a sentence - otherwise we wouldn't have the abundance of literature that exists for our knowledge and pleasure! :-) Nov 18, 2014 at 20:41
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"Count your blessings" covers the sentiment in that by "counting" (see definition below) or taking into consideration your blessings which are things in your life for which to be thankful, you're saying the same thing without the pesky preposition at the end.

Per Google Dictionary's 2nd meaning for the verb, "count":

  1. take into account; include.

Example: "a company with 250 employees, not counting overseas staff"

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There is nothing wrong with ending with a preposition.

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    What prepositions is it not wrong to end a sentence with? Could you find an example to elaborate on?
    – blgt
    Nov 18, 2014 at 15:36
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I do share your feelings towards ending a sentence with a preposition. However, those feelings aside, all my teachers (both English and my native language) have always emphasised that it actually isn't wrong. Though I should point out that they have all been advocates of writing (almost) spoken language.

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As with most quotations, their accuracy and attribution are hard to come by. Nevertheless, the following quotation, attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, sums up ironically the attitude of Churchill toward the arrant pedantry informing many of the rules of English grammar:

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

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    Shome mishtake, shurely? Whether or not Churchill himself ever said anything about such usages, your version implies he approved of the rule "Don't end a sentence with a preposition". A typical version (which makes it clear he did not approve) is "This is the kind of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put" Nov 18, 2014 at 16:46
  • @FumbleFingers: Methinks thou misseth the ironic undertone of Sir Winston's utterance. He's making fun of how awkward a sentence can sound when we hew legalistically to some silly rule which has been passed down from pedant to pedant over who knows how many years. Now, if the way I stated my case caused you to think that I think Sir Winston thought a preposition is a word we SHOULDN'T end a sentence with, then I bear the full weight of responsibility for the corrigendum. Nov 18, 2014 at 17:28
  • I understand how both versions of the "pithicism" work. But your version is certainly the less common one. In the link I posted, they list nine different versions with the explicit condemnation. After which they introduce four versions of the "sarcastic reversal" with the words Then there are those who get it so scrambled it comes out backward. Nov 18, 2014 at 17:37
  • @FumbleFingers: Yeah, I consulted the same web site. That's one reason why I added the qualification about the difficulties associated with accuracy and attribution. I mean, who really knows who said what (and when, and how, and why)? Apart from an original manuscript of a speech, e.g. (and there are problems even with those, since they can be faked, or proved to be a copy) or a tape recording (again, not infallible), it's almost safer simply to say, "Someone has said . . .." I have a feeling, however, that a big name attached to a quotation adds some gravitas to one's speech and/or writing. Nov 18, 2014 at 17:55
  • Whenever I see such quotes attributed to, say, Winston Churchill or Mark Twain, I pretty much take it for granted that's unlikely to be true. Sometimes I'll be wrong, but as a rule of thumb it works okay. Nov 18, 2014 at 18:00

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