6

— Where are you going?
— I'm going to Paris.

vs.

— Where are you going to?
— I'm going to Paris.

I'm pretty sure the first one is correct, but what about the second?

  • 6
    "Where are you going to" seems to be quite popular among foreign learners whose mother tongue is German. That's probably because in German, "Where are you going" (wo gehen Sie) would be wrong, the correct form being wo gehen Sie hin. So those people try to mimic that hin in English by adding a to (though, of course, technically hin is not a preposition, but rather a part of the split-up interrogative wohin, "'where' as an indication of direction", as opposed to a simple wo, "'where' as an indication of position, with no indication of direction"). – RegDwigнt Nov 2 '10 at 10:28
  • This is not the main point of the question, but the space before the question mark seems nonstandard at best. See english.stackexchange.com/questions/4645/…. – Tsuyoshi Ito Nov 2 '10 at 18:06
  • @TsuyoshiIto : My fault, I am French :) – hoang May 23 '12 at 12:50
  • @RegDwightΒВB Isn’t German wohin English whither? – tchrist Jun 15 '12 at 12:24
7

The “to” in “Where are you going to?” sounds superfluous to me just because “Where are you going?” is perfectly fine and I cannot think of any reason to add “to” to it.

The reason why “Where are you going to?” sounds strange is not because the sentence ends with a preposition. For example, there is nothing wrong with the sentence “Who are you talking to?”

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3

It's worth checking out the other preposition threads on the site. I especially like

Prepositions at the end of sentence and whom

which states ending on a preposition is acceptable usage, and only frowned on because of an over-exertion of Latin rules by grammarians.

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2

Both examples are quite acceptable in colloquial speech, though the former avoids the hanging preposition, so is preferable to the prescriptivists. Also, the word "where" has subsumed the dative sense ("to where", or "whither" in formal/archaic English.)

In any case, I would consider three variant forms, which are:

  1. Where are you going [to]? (most common)

  2. To where are you going? (grammatically more "correct", though perhaps the preposition is a bit redundant)

  3. Whither go you? (a bit archaic, but I do like how succinct it is)

P.S. Regarding hanging prepositions, even many men of letters in the past have had no qualms about using them; it seems to be a grammatical rule artificially copied over from Latin at some point.

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    Ooh, I need to start asking "whither goest thou" instead of "where ya goin'". :-) – Marthaª Nov 2 '10 at 16:35
  • @Martha: Indeed! That's definitely the coolest way to speak. (Note that you would use "thou" in familiar situations and "you" in formal ones.) Amazingly, "thou" is still somewhat in use in Northern England/Lowland Scotland. – Noldorin Nov 3 '10 at 13:11
0

Both are correct, "where are you going?" and "where are you going to".

Some questions need a preposition at the end, some do not. For example:

  • "How many countries have you been to?" (preposition needed)
  • "Where are you going?" (preposition not needed).
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-3

Never end a sentence with a preposition, unless you're Winston Churchill. It's occasionally acceptable, but only if the sentence would be horrible if rearranged to avoid it. "Where are you going?" is a fine sentence; the "to" is not needed (either at the beginning or end).

“This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.” ~ Winston Churchill

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  • 3
    Nope, not Winston Churchill. That's a misattribution no longer to be put up with. – RegDwigнt Nov 2 '10 at 10:11
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    That quote supports ending sentences with prepositions, which is the opposite of what you're saying. Compare also "Where are you from?" vs. "From where are you?" The former sounds much better. – Claudiu Nov 4 '10 at 13:51

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