Blog April 7, 2016 by

St Giles

Grammar Myth: Ending a Sentence with a Preposition

learn english, prepostion

It is perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition.  In fact, a sentence can sound awkward if you try to avoid ending it with a preposition.

What is a Preposition?

A preposition is a word that expresses a relationship between other words in a clause or a sentence.

Prepositions often relate to:

  • Place or position: The cat was under the table.
  • Possession: He’s a friend of mine.
  • Purpose: The reason for this meeting is to introduce the new chairman.
  • The way in which something is done: I travelled to Nottingham by bus.
  • Time: We are meeting our cousins on Saturday at 12 pm.

When to End a Sentence with a Preposition

Ending a sentence with a preposition is acceptable and reasonable when used in the following situations.

  • Relative clauses: Is that what you were worried about?
  • Questions beginning with ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘Where’: What is he looking for?
  • Infinitive structures: She had no one to dance with.
  • Passive structures: She likes being looked at.

It would be overly formal to end those sentences differently, as you can see in the following examples.

  • ‘Is that what you were worried about’? vs. ‘Is that about what you were worried’?
  • ‘What is he looking for’? vs. ‘For what is he looking’?
  • ‘She had no one to dance with’. vs. ‘She had no one with whom to dance’.
  • ‘She likes being looked at’. vs. ‘She likes being the girl at whom someone looks’.

In each of the above examples, the second sentence sounds overly formal and lumbering. There are situations which call for formality, such as formal events. For everyday use, however, prepositions are sometimes best placed at the end of the sentence.

For more information on any of our English language courses, please contact St Giles.