Is ending a sentence with a preposition a recipe for bad grammar? If you must prepare letters, reports, proposals, or other written materials on a daily basis, it's a good idea to have a firm grasp of the essential rules of English grammar. However, the topic of ending a sentence with a preposition is one that continues to inspire debate even among those who are committed to promoting good writing.
Ending a Sentence with a Preposition
What Is a Preposition?
Before discussing whether or not it's acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition, it's helpful to clarify what this term actually means. Essentially, a preposition is a word that is used to create a relationship between other words. In many cases, prepositions deal with concepts relating to location and time, such as "under," "around," or "after." You'll also encounter multi-word prepositions that serve the same kind of purpose, like "along with," "on top of," and "except for."
Download YourDictionary's list of common preposition words and phrases within the English language to help you remember them.
Is Ending a Sentence with a Preposition Acceptable?
At one time, schoolchildren were taught that a sentence should never end with a preposition. However, this is a rule from Latin grammar that was applied to English. While many aspects of Latin have made their way into the English language, this particular grammar rule is not suited for modern English usage.
There are times when trying to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition creates unnecessary and awkward phrasing.
Winston Churchill once allegedly exclaimed, "That is the sort of thing up with which I will not put!" to mock someone who criticized him for ending a sentence with a preposition.
"Who is he going to the movies with?" is much more natural and casual than "With whom is he going to the movies?"
Similarly, "Where are you coming from?" is much less formal than rearranging the sentence to avoid ending in a preposition: "From where are you coming?"
Since the purpose of writing is to clearly communicate your thoughts and ideas, it's perfectly acceptable to end a sentence with a preposition if the alternative would create confusion or sound unnatural.
Clear and Communicative
However, it may still be worth revising your sentences to avoid ending them with a preposition whenever possible if you wish to reduce the risk of controversy.
Since there are still a number of people who believe ending a sentence with a preposition is incorrect, considering your audience's thoughts on the issue is a wise idea-particularly when you're trying to gain a new client or land an important job interview. For example, "Which department is she in?" could simply be rewritten to read as "She is in which department?" without influencing clarity or comprehension.