Ending a sentence with a preposition

Ending a sentence with a preposition is completely fine. Do it. You can cite the following sources to anyone who says you shouldn’t:*

  • For Who the Bell Tolls: One Man’s Quest for Grammatical Perfection, David Marsh
  • Fowler’s Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Jeremy Butterfield (editor)
  • Oxford A–Z of Grammar & Punctuation, John Seely
  • Oxford Guide to Plain English, Martin Cutts
  • Penguin Writer’s Manual, Martin Manser & Stephen Curtis
  • The Chicago Manual of Style

Sometimes sentences ending in prepositions should be rewritten because they lack impact or read badly, but they are not ‘wrong’. It is only in the most formal of contexts that placing a preposition before its object is a must. In fact, in some situations it is only appropriate for the preposition to come at the end of a clause or sentence (see Fowler’s for more on this).

Don’t ruin your writing trying to obey this ‘rule’. It is not a thing.

* Martin Cutts calls these people ‘fossils’. I couldn’t possibly comment …

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16 thoughts on “Ending a sentence with a preposition

  1. Many of my writing students believe that grammar “rules” such as this one are holy writ. What utter nonsense. It’s no wonder so many people are turned off by writing when they have to contend with such artificiality. Thanks for raising the issue, and visiting my blog, too!

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  2. Thank you. Like so many others, I was taught NOT to end a sentence with a preposition. Ever. Under any circumstances.

    Of course, I was also taught not to use sentence fragments, too. Still, there’s some value to being taught formal language rules–as long as we don’t over-adhere to them while trying to write to entertain. 🙂

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    • Yes, I very much agree. I had an excellent English teacher and she told me to learn those rules – and then break them! Understanding the intention and the context is always the key (as well as making sure it makes sense!).

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  3. I couldn’t agree more. This is especially true when writing dialog you don’t want to sound overly formal. Most people don’t ask, “With whom did you go to the movies?” They ask, “Who did you go to the movies with?”

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