Ganging Up on the Sentence-ending Preposition Myth
As every qualified language commentator under the sun has been saying for years: There’s no rule against ending a sentence with a preposition. Yet the myth lives on. When I wrote a recent column about a co-worker of mine who’s still victim to the myth, I got a number of e-mails from readers who were surprised to hear it.
The sticking power of bad information never ceases to amaze. So, in yet another drop-in-the-bucket attempt to counter the bad information, here are a whole bunch of experts on the subject.
“The preposition at the end has always been an idiomatic feature of English. It would be pointless to worry about the few who believe it is a mistake.” – Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage
“Superstition. … Good writers don’t hesitate to end their sentences with prepositions if doing so results in phrasing that seems natural.” – Garner’s Modern American Usage
“The ‘rule’ prohibiting terminal prepositions was an ill-founded superstition. Today many grammarians use the dismissive term ‘pied-piping’ for this phenomenon.”
“That is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I shall not put” – Unknown (Surprised? If you think this was a Winston Churchill quip, you’re not alone. Even the Chicago Manual of Style attributes it to him. But have researchers discovered that it probably wasn’t!)
“‘Never end a sentence with a preposition.’ … Wrong.” –Washington Post Business Copy Desk Chief Bill Walsh
“Good writers throughout the history of English – from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Alison Lurie and David Lodge -- have not shrunk from ending clauses or sentences with prepositions.” – Word Court author Barbara Wallraff
“Not only is the preposition acceptable at the end, sometimes it is more effective in that spot than anywhere else.” – William Strunk, Jr., The Elements of Style
“For years and years Miss Thistlebottom has been teaching her bright-eyed brats that no writer would end a sentence with a preposition if he knew what he was about. The truth is that no good writer would follow Miss Thistlebottom’s rule. – Theodore M. Bernstein, “The Careful Writer” (copyright 1965)
“Superstition.” – H.W. Fowler