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As I understand, keeping prepositions from the end of a sentence is a cardinal rule with no exceptions. However, "To whose dog does this ball belong?" does not seem correct to me at all. How should this sentence be structured?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, user140086, Community Dec 2 '15 at 2:46

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This "cardinal rule" is a myth that needs to be put to rest. It makes me think of This is the sort of English up with which I will not put!

I wouldn't say "To whose dog does this ball belong" is ungrammatical (just awkward), but "Whose dog does this ball belong to?" is much more natural and idiomatic.

From a blog article at oxforddictionaries.com:

...there are four main types of situation in which it is more natural to end a sentence or clause with a preposition:

  • passive structures (she enjoys being fussed over)
  • relative clauses (they must be convinced of the commitment that they are taking on)
  • infinitive structures (Tom had no-one to play with)
  • questions beginning with who, where, what, etc. (what music are you interested in?)

(Grammar myths #1: is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition?)

  • 1
    @Hugh Is that relevant to the question? – Jeremy Dec 1 '15 at 19:12
  • The "on" in the second example ("...they are taking on") looks more like an adverb than a preposition to me. – Andreas Blass Dec 1 '15 at 23:02
  • @Hugh I'm not making an argument based on etymology but on usage. My argument is enclosed in sentence #2, This is the sort of English up with which I will not put!. That's it. Now, I have no reason to question the reasoning in the oxforddictionaries.com post, but I quoted only the relevant part, which I think is a nice summary of obvious cases where a stranded preposition is idiomatic. – A.P. Dec 2 '15 at 5:52
  • No, I know you're not. But since the "cardinal rule" was held so fiercely and for so long I thought it worth saying that it was not simply made up to annoy schoolchildren, It is based on rhetorical advice not to end a paragraph with a weak word because, if you do, it just sort of tails off. – Hugh Dec 2 '15 at 12:41
  • Andreas Blass, it might be interpreted as a phrasal verb. – Rodney Atkins Jul 19 '18 at 21:56

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