1. LadyWriterOnTheTV
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    LadyWriterOnTheTV Member

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    How picky are you on not ending a sentence with a preposition?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by LadyWriterOnTheTV, Jun 18, 2013.

    I've gotten to be pretty picky in the way I avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, but I realize there are many people who have no regard for this.

    When writing, I don't want to be distracting to the reader by my choice of words, but rather I want the story to shine through.

    So, I am wondering, how picky are you about not ending a sentence with a preposition?

    As an example, there's this:

    "That is a point I can't agree with."

    When I see that, I want to reword it to say, "That is a point with which I cannot agree."

    But, I wonder, fellow lovers of the written word, am I being too picky, to the point of making the reading uncomfortable for the average English-speaker?

    What do you think?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    In my narrative, I am a stickler. In my dialogue, I must recognize the vagaries of normal speech patterns, regionalism, and idiolect.
     
  3. Shandeh
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    Shandeh Active Member

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    What POV do you write from?

    If you write from first, or close third, person perspective, then the first is better. I mean really, who talks like the second? If you want to write historical fiction it's probably best to use the second because people really DID talk like that once. If you write from omniscient 3P then you can be as formal as you please because essentially you have another person in the scene.

    I typically write from first, or else very close third, and thus my writing voice is fairly informal.

    Dialogue is usually fairly casual, again unless you're writing historical fiction. So if that's a line of speech, I would probably use the first.
     
  4. LadyWriterOnTheTV
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    LadyWriterOnTheTV Member

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    I should've explained that I mean in regards to narrative as opposed to dialogue. My dialogues can get pretty slangy, sloppy, and/or regional.
     
  5. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    A quick Net look at that particular grammar rule finds a consensus the rule is a myth. :)
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say "I cannot agree with that point." Or "I disagree."

    In essays and in narrative I avoid it. In less formal situations, including on this site, I'll let it go if it would just seem too awkward to reword it. But even when I do end a sentence with a preposition on this site, I always think about the fact that I'm doing it.
     
  7. LadyWriterOnTheTV
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    LadyWriterOnTheTV Member

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    For me, it's a carry-over from when I was homeschooling some of my older children. The grammar program we used had taught that prepositions do not belong at the end of a sentence. Then I took a course for medical transcription and it was further reiterated, so it became part of my speech. :)
     
  8. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I have to correct my mother on this all the time. She will call or text and say, "Where you be at?"
    It's uncomfortable telling a grown lady fourteen years older than me that the correct way to say that is, "Where you is?"
     
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  9. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    I thought, "Where are you?" was the grammatical way to word that question.
     
  10. 7thMidget
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    7thMidget Member

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    Well, I just thought that was funny, haha.
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Woosh! :p
     
  12. Mithrandir
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    Mithrandir Contributing Member

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    Yes, I now see that it was a joke. :redface:
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Happens to me all the time. :)
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I get no pickier than I have to.
     
  15. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My understanding (feel free to correct me) is that it's a controversial rule based on trying to artificially force English to follow Latin grammar. This makes no sense to me, so I group it with rules that I have no regard for, but others might. I would follow those rules for writing where the opinion of others can have an affect on my well-being--resumes, college application essays, that sort of thing. I reluctantly conclude that that probably means that it's risky in any writing that one is submitting to an agent, publisher, or magazine, as well.
     
  16. Sheriff Woody
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    Sheriff Woody Active Member

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    Ending a sentence with a preposition is something I simply cannot put up with. I've thought that way all along. How can I get this point across? We may have to throw down. Let me know when you are near. I'll knock your block off.

    Yeah, I don't care. As long as the sentence makes sense and reads clearly, because that's what matters.
     
  17. sanco
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    sanco Contributing Member

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    ^epic.
     
  18. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    There could be some verb-preposition pairs that are so comfortable together, that breaking them up would be cruel and not too sensible either. To quote Sheriff Woody: "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something I simply cannot put up with". ...with which I cannot put up sounds and looks weird and clumsy. Then again, sometimes the preposition might look lonely and "hanging" when it ends the sentence. I can't come up with a good example, but maybe something like "it was the intense, dark look in her eyes Willy's gaze kept returning to."

    So perhaps, to a degree, the author can also use common sense instead of following the grammar rules to a T? Of course it's possible to do away with verbs that require some preposition, use handle instead of deal with, or tolerate instead of put up with, but sometimes the alternatives don't feel right.
     
  19. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am not picky at all. It's perfectly correct to end with proposition, and whatever sentence flows best in a paragraph, I'll use it.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    but the example you gave is clearly dialog, isn't it?

    and you said you allow your characters to speak 'normally'... so it would help if you gave us an example of what you don't like to see/write in actual narrative...
     
  21. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The thing is, it's a contentious rule. Both camps will pull out impressively named and respected authorities to bolster their argument, because both camps do have such. But let's step away from both camps and look at it from the outside, shall we? This 'rule' along with the split infinitive rule (equally contentious) have their roots in the medieval period when English took a deep Latin injection to the buttocks from The Church. This was the same period that gave debt its ridiculous b which was not there prior in English orthography. Debt and a host of other words in English were reverse engineered to give them a more Latin appearance. The terminal proposition and the split infinitive were viewed as ugly constructions by the only lettered people of the time, clergy, because Latin abhors these structures though they were (are) perfectly common constructions in English of the time (and now). No other reason. It's a strange case of prescriptive grammarianism where the prescription is from a different language.

    So, pick the side you wish. Both sides have healthy campaign funds. I personally prefer not to divorce prepositions from the child clause whenever practical. But for anyone who feels that dangling prepositions are unpublishable, pick up anything by Clive Barker. He dangles prepositions with spritely insouciance.
     
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  22. Drunkugly
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    For me, anything that takes the reader out if the story, even for a second, is probably something to avoid. Most people end sentences with a preposition. It might be jarring in a story in modern setting to use what would sound like old fashioned language. Although ending a lot of sentences that way can also sound weird, and is honestly kind of lazy. I wouldn't know how to write for someone that is a stickler for correct grammar, so I guess you have to pick your audience.
     
  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Does it really sound old-fashioned to your ear? :) I ask without irony, honestly. As a linguist, it fascinates me to hear that viewpoint. You're not the first one to make the statement here in this thread. It would indicate a significant shift in an already contentious rule. These kinds of shifts in language are very intriguing to me. :)
     
  24. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    It's a rule - not!

    I found this quite useful piece in "The Grammarist." http://grammarist.com/grammar/sentence-ending-prepositions/

    "The “rule” that a preposition should not end a sentence goes back to the 18th century, when some grammarians believed English should bend to the rules of Latin grammar. But like the spurious prohibition against starting sentences with conjunctions, this rule goes against the glorious flexibility of English and often leads to unnatural-sounding sentences."

    So no. I'm not picky about it at all. In the end this is one of those things that comes back to your writers voice. What you write has to be clear enough for your readers to understand, but to a certain extent the rules of grammar can be ignored as long as you're consistent and what comes out sounds natural / real.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  25. thewordsmith
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    Ginger, in the respect that all rules are man-made, of course it is a "myth". But, if you are going to discard one grammatical "myth", why bother with any of them? Why refer to females as "she" and males as "he"? How about we just call them all "it"? There is a lovely sort of decorum in certain proscribed norms - certain standards of grammar among them - and abiding by the strictures of those norms helps to define us as human beings.

    Now, having said that, much of what once was the standard in language, most especially the English/American language, has changed through the ages. I love the iteration chanted by school kids years ago, "Y'cain't say ain't coz ain't ain't in the dictionary." When I was in grade school, I had a WONDERFUL teacher who pointed out that, at one time, "ain't" was a perfectly acceptable bait of language. The all-purpose contraction for "is not", "am not", and "are not" actually WAS in the dictionary. Then somewhere along the way, noses-in-the-air Americans decided they did not like the way it "fell upon the ear", and banished it from "proper" speech.

    There are thousands of such "adjustments" to language, that's just my personal favorite.

    This is just to illustrate that language is a living thing. It changes with the exigencies of the culture in which it is used. If it did not, it would fall into the same category as Latin: "It used to be a language, now it's just a curiosity seen on prescriptions and in old books." And yet, Latin is at the root of so many English language words.

    We have, through the ages, taken great liberties with our languages. If you go back to "ye olde English", British is actually based in German. Middle English shows a clearly defined deviation from the older English. Ever read Canterbury Tales... In it's original Early Middle English? You would be hard pressed to recognize that English as the same language spoken today because it is not!

    The same holds true for those "rules" of grammar beaten into our heads in elementary school. When you were in the second grade, 'impact' was never used as an active verb. It applied to teeth that were not erupting through the gums properly, or the latent affect something had on something else. Today, however, thanks to a journalist grasping for just the right word to describe a situation, it is quite common to hear someone say something like, "How is this going to impact that?"

    And so it is with the poor, mistreated and much maligned preposition. While, 'once upon a time', it was never acceptable to end a sentence a preposition with, in casual language it is now the standard. In formal speech, it is still generally frowned upon, however.

    So, is it wrong to end a sentence with a preposition? Is it a myth that it is so? The 'definitive' answer is, "It depends."
     

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