Ending a sentence with a preposition
Most of us were taught in school that ending a sentence with a preposition is wrong. English teachers would circle the sentence-ending prepositions in red ink and take off points from our grade. I know of one teacher who would give an F for any paper that contained an end-of-sentence preposition. We learned to write and speak in a stuffy manner in order to sound proper, and this myth became so common that most people think it’s wrong to end a sentence with a preposition. It’s actually perfectly fine to end a sentence with a preposition.
Ending a sentence with a preposition is fine.
We know where most people got the idea: from teachers. So where did our teachers get the idea?
It basically started as the pet peeve of one man, John Dryden. He tried to make English line up with Latin, which it clearly doesn’t do, although many of our words do come from Latin (and Greek, and French, and German, and . . .). After an effective public-relations campaign, the idea was adopted by many, and the hideous marking of sentence-ending prepositions began. He was always wrong, and so were our beloved (or not so beloved) teachers.
Several reputable sources tell us this.
The mistaken belief persists, however. Just an hour before I wrote this post, several writers (not editors, thank heavens) told me I was wrong when I responded to a writer’s question, saying that ending a sentence with a preposition is actually fine. Well, I assume they intended to say that I was wrong. They each responded with a simple, “No.” A one-word response is not exactly what one would expect from writers, but okay. Sometimes simple responses are the best. Yes.
Sources that say it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition.
Grammar Girl is the go-to resource for some publishing houses and many freelance editors as well. Mignon says it’s okay to end a sentence with a preposition.
Oxford Dictionary is a widely respected source. It also says the “rule” is wrong and that it’s fine to end a sentence with a preposition.
And, to cap it off, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, which is the dictionary used by The Chicago Manual of Style, which is no less than trade publishing’s editing bible, says this:
So let’s put an end to the garbage John Dryden started, and find something better to put our focus on.