Prepositions at the end

Some colleagues asked me how I feel about sentences that end with prepositions. The truth is, as I told them, I just can’t get too worked up about that. In formal or academic writing, you should avoid such constructions, if only because you are liable to irritate someone who believes in the old rule. Otherwise, write in a way that seems natural. Sometimes, that means ending a sentence with a preposition.

The American Heritage Book of English Usage blames John Dryden and 18th-century grammarians for the rule. Dr. Language at YourDictionary.com explains why this rule suits Latin but not English. Dr. Paul Brians compiles myriad versions of the story of Winston Churchill and prepositions.

Although I can’t work myself into a fury over prepositions at the end of sentences, I don’t sanction this: Where are you at? That’s an unnecessary preposition. Get It Write has some advice on that.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.