Sentence-ending prepositions create an Insta uproar

Can you end a sentence with a preposition? Yes. Can you say so online and not send angry social media users into attack mode? Apparently not.

That’s the lesson of a recent Instagram post by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary that stated plainly and accurately: “It is permissible in English for a preposition to be what you end a sentence with. The idea that it should be avoided came from writers who were trying to align the language with Latin, but there’s no reason to suggest ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong.”

The denizens of Instagram weren’t having it.

“This represents something ugly,” one replied.

“I don’t like it,” said another.

The outcries came in spite of Merriam’s perfectly illustrating their point: “This is what we’re talking about.”

Not familiar with the issue? That’s OK. It gets less relevant with each passing year. Telling students not to end sentences with prepositions was a fad among teachers in decades past, especially in the 1950s and ’60s. The echoes of those lessons grow fainter every year. And because they were never based in fact anyway, you don’t need to worry where you’re putting your prepositions. But if you’re interested, here’s the lowdown in my recent column.

Tags: ,