1. Robert Stevenson
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    Robert Stevenson New Member

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    Ending sentences in prepositions

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Robert Stevenson, Mar 21, 2008.

    Grammar teachers say no, but newspapers will end an occassional sentence with a preposition. I bascially try to avoid ending in a preposition, but when rephrasing the sentence sounds awkward, I will make exceptions. What do you think?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    What would you ever want to do that for? :)

    This is one of those rules that are good to keep in mind, but you need not follow obsessively. It is like splitting an infinitive; you don't want to do it all the time, but "to boldly go where no one has gone before" simply sounds stronger that the more correct "to go boldly where no one has gone before."

    If you remain aware of the guideline, you won't violate it to a degree that it becomes intrusive. But if it really does sound better, go fo it!
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    agreed!... creative writing isn't an english class... you can get away with bending and breaking rules as much as you want, for reasons of style, as long as they work...
     
  4. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    The last word of a sentence is of critical importance. Do you want to leave the reader with a word as weak as a preposition, that carries little meaning? It's almost always a bad idea to end with prepositions because usually there are better ways to end a sentence.
     
  5. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    so long as they work they're justified, but if they dont be aware that you'll be criticized...heavily.
     
  6. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    Yes. I think that goes without saying. The real question is when does a preposition work at the end of a sentence?
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    "I'm going in!"
    "What for?"
    "Because I have to."
    "I don't believe you have thought it through."
     
  8. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I ALWAYS avoid ending with prepositions in the manner people often do when speaking - "You wanna come with?" that drives me CRAZY!!! "You wanna come?" is SHORTER and carries the exact same meaning without the stupid preposition. But sometimes it's better with the preposition at the end...you'll notice I start sentences with conjunctions all the time. I just did :-D

    Oh, cogito, I thought about your example, and doesn't this carry the same meaning?
    "I'm going in there!"
    "Why?"
    "Because I must!" (or, more colloquially, "Because I gotta!")
    "Maybe you should think about this..."
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My point was not that you couldn't rewrite the sentences to avoid ending with a preposition, but that such sentences are not automatically horrible.

    All my examples were dialogue, which also extends a certain amount of leeway. The same constructs could also appear in open narrative, though, without making most readers wince.
     
  10. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I agree. You almost can't apply the standards of grammar to dialogue, because we simply don't talk that way.

    As a random side note, can anyone else's spell checker handle the word "dialogue"? Because mine is convinced it's not a word.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    My US English spell checker in Word 2003 has no problem with either dialog or dialogue. Dictionary.com prefers dialogue over dialog.
     
  12. adamant
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    adamant Contributing Member Contributor

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    as do I...
     
  13. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    My spellchecker in microsoft word can say dialogue with no problem, but my firefox spellchecker (I assume that's what's checking my text fields, although I don't know where it came from) will only take dialog. Weird.

    Sorry for the OT
     
  14. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    Dialogue is clipped and usually much less worrysome than the actual prose. You pointed out the few necessary exceptions to the guideline. There are some times, like the times you pointed out, where the popularization of an idiomatic phrase renders it usable at the end of a sentence.

    "going in" is the same as "going inside" which is perfectly valid, considering that inside is a noun as much as it is a preposition.

    "Have to" is just a substitute for "must."

    "thought it through" is an idiomatic phrase and a metaphor. It's acceptable because there's no confusion that "through" is going to lead into a new prepositional phrase.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not sure whether this is a coincidence, or whether Mr Stevenson is travelling in the same communities I am. I just found an article by David Bowman (not the astronaut from 2001: A Space Odyssey, I'm sure), Ending Sentences With Prepositions.

    Enjoy!
     
  16. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    While you can end sentences with prepositions, it's generally frowned upon. Personally, I can't stand sentences that end with a preposition.
     
  17. nacreous
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    nacreous New Member

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    rules are made to be broken. however, it is best to avoid ending sentences with prepositions unless it is necessary.
    cheers, and good luck with your grammar.
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Remember that the English language is a living thing. It changes over time. This is natural and healthy for any language†. Be thankful that there is no bureaucratic entity governing the English language like we have in Spanish today*. The term Vulgar Latin has a wretched sound, but it refers to the Latin that was being spoken in the streets and pubs of ancient Rome, and not in the churches, temples, or the senate of the time. This vulgar form of the language was the nascent fountain that would give us Spanish, Italian, French, Raeto Romansch, and the myriad other romance languages both extent and extinct.

    Ending a sentence in a preposition is something that I am not often want to do in the narrative of a story, but I will happily sprinkle within the dialogue. Whether one considers it right, wrong; good, bad; proper, or improper is almost beside the point. It is part of the common vernacular tool-box. Vulgar English, if you like.



    † There is still no officially sanctioned term in Spanish for website. It has been how long now?

    * La Real Academia Española
     
  19. thelastblueberry
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    thelastblueberry New Member

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    In my imagination. Not always a good thing...
    Language is always changing and writing is all about breaking rules and bringing about that change. I say if it works, then go for it! :)
     
  20. evizaer
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    evizaer Contributing Member

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    Writing is not all about breaking rules. Breaking rules has little to do with good writing. Good writing is successful communication. Breaking rules, if not done properly, leads to a failure of communication. That's why we have rules, even if they are only intuitive and not writ large.
     

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