I read a sentence in Word by Word by Kory Stamper which was:

If you ask a modern adherent to this rule why, exactly, you aren't supposed to end a sentence with a preposition, they merely goggle at you as if you had just asked why you aren't supposed to lick electrical sockets. Because it is objectively better not to, that's why.

The fact that the "objectively better" part is italicised as well as answer both the above mentioned questions makes me think that the author is making a pun here. Regarding the latter question, I think the word "objective" means "based on experience and facts" and regarding the former question, I think it somewhat relates to the "objective case" we learn in grammar. But I am still not sure. Am I right?

  • 3
    Objectively is used in contrast to subjectively, so if you say that something is objectively better it means that this is not just your opinion but that anybody who knew the facts would have to agree it was better. Here the author is being sarcastic - he is saying that people who adhere to this rule can't give a coherent reason for it and end up saying that's just the way it is.
    – user339660
    Jul 27, 2019 at 7:00
  • Consider that "that's why" is an optional phrase and can be omitted. Then what does the sentence end with?
    – Hot Licks
    Jul 27, 2019 at 11:35

2 Answers 2


I'm not sure it is a pun - I think Minty's comment covers what's happening : when asked "why" people have resorted to a response that's effectively "just because", which is likely to be infuriating and suggests that they're not really able to come up with an answer. The italics are to emphasis a change in tone, which I agree would probably be sarcastic.

The rule is not to end a sentence with a preposition, but if doing that improves clarity, provides brevity or takes consideration of the audience, the question "why shouldn't I do that?" doesn't have a satisfactory answer. This leaves people who want to argue that the rule is sacrosanct with an answer no better than "because we said so".

There might also be a pun there, but if there is I'm not sure what it's on about.


My understanding is this. An object normally comes after a preposition. Therefore the pun is where do you put the object if the preposition is at the end. "Because it is objectively better not to"

Explanation. A preposition can be understood as anywhere a dog can be in relation to its doghouse. A dog can be: in the doghouse around the doghouse near the doghouse on the doghouse. All of these preposition examples show where the dog is in relation to its doghouse (The Object)

  • But then, how does "objectively better" answers the second question?
    – kelvin
    Jul 27, 2019 at 8:56

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