3

Consider the following situation. I am waiting for someone who is getting through a list of my purchases and slowly wanders around a storage and gets my stuff to the counter piece by piece. I am asking that person about the progress:

What are you looking for for me right now?

Meaning to find out the item number that person is processing at the moment.

I do get that such a sentence is a little made up. What I ask is if it is ok to combine the same preposition from time to time? Should I avoid it altogether?

Other examples:

There is nobody you could speak to to my mind.

Would you check this out out of curiosity?

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  • 5
    All three are normal in spoken English (though avoided in written English). Their sense is made clear by prosody.
    – Dan
    Oct 24, 2016 at 18:07
  • 1
    In written English I sometimes change the preposition just to avoid using the same word twice in a row. Just today I changed "Who should I speak to to fix this?" to "Who should I speak with to fix this?" In spoken English the repeated word isn't an issue.
    – Darryl
    Oct 24, 2016 at 18:17
  • If I had someone doing my shopping for me and I was on the phone with them asking about their progress, I might just ask, "Where are you on the list?" or "What are you looking for now?" or just, "Almost done?" and let them respond.
    – Jim
    Oct 25, 2016 at 2:08
  • @Jim I understand that I can rephrase the sentence. What I need to find out is if really should do that and put effort in evading the coupled prepositions. Oct 25, 2016 at 10:44
  • 1
    @Dan Thank you for the clarification. I take that as the answer. Oct 25, 2016 at 10:46

2 Answers 2

1

Using a word twice in a row isn’t always a no-no, but there’s always a more elegant way to revise a sentence in which you might initially be inclined to repeat a word immediately. I've mentioned two ways to avoid that by using your own examples.

One of the ways to do that is by replacing the prepositional phrase with a simple verb:

What are you finding for me right now?

Another way is to place the end of the sentence at the beginning:

Out of curiosity, could you check this out?

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  • Thanks for the update but please keep in mind that I have no problem rephrasing the sentences. The question is not about looking for a way to rephrase them. Nov 7, 2016 at 15:34
0

If you're writing fiction and a character is speaking, sure. If you're writing something more formal, I'd rephrase to avoid the doubled preposition.

You might consider commas between the prepositions in your 2nd and 3rd examples.

1
  • Aren't commas something strictly regulated? I mean do I have to put commas there or is it arbitrary? Nov 7, 2016 at 15:32

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