Ending sentences with prepositions
Prepositions - small connecting words such as at, about, to, under - are used to clarify relationships between other words, especially between verbs and the receivers of the verb’s action. We have all heard warnings against ending sentences with prepositions, but there is no hard and fast rule.
As a matter of style, ending a sentence with a preposition can give undue stress to the preposition, leaving the reader with the feeling that the sentence has ended weakly (For example, He wasn’t sure which sample to look at.). If a sentence ending with a proposition sounds weak to you, revise it by moving or eliminating the preposition, but do not defy meaning or the natural word order.
However, sometimes it is just inconvenient and illogical not to end a perfectly understandable and strong sentence with a preposition. You can even cite two authorities on language:
- Shakespeare’s Henry V includes the line, “Who servest thou under?”
- Winston Churchill, to demonstrate the inconvenience when the so-called rule is followed, is reported to have put his feelings on the matter thus:
This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.
SMILE - Grammar by Vince Ricci: CIEE, Joe Schall: Penn State University, Glynis Perkin: Loughborough University, edited by Marion Kelt: GCU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.