Yes, it is. English is a very flexible language. Your priority when conveying information should be to make clear-sounding sentences appropriate for the style of writing you’re engaging in. If that requires putting prepositions at the end of a sentence, so be it.
What are prepositions?
They are words that indicate the relationship between things, which means they require an object.
E.g., “In spite [preposition] of his reluctance, he went and gave a speech.”
They tend to indicate location, time, direction, mode or other relationships.
Why do some people think they should never end a sentence with a preposition?
Many teachers indicate that you should never do this, the origin of which dates back to the 17th century. During this time, English followed a Latin structure. In fact, prepositions in Latin mean “before placing”. In Latin, it did not make sense to use prepositions at the end, but in English, it did. However, we ended up adopting the same pattern back in the day.
There is some truth to why you should not end a sentence with prepositions, but it’s not an all-or-nothing rule. In the first place, rules must change and adapt to how people conceptualize different things (like prepositions) in the changing times. Once you understand the functionality and context, you’ll be set to use it appropriately.
You might also be interested in checking out how to write and deliver short speeches.
When can you not end a sentence with a preposition?
- When it is unnatural with the use. The primary focus should always be whether it sounds natural in a sentence or is forced, requiring more effort from the reader for comprehension. The sentence should be clear and understood. E.g.,
- “What reason must you do this for?”
- “Could you go with me after?”
- “This fence we must go around.”
- When you’re making formal communication, such as in resumes, emails, reports, presentations, etc., avoiding it can maintain the tone of the content. Related to this: check out what are the differences between formal and informal speeches.
- When it’s completely unnecessary to use them because another part of the sentence already fulfills its purpose. E.g., “Is this something you would like to purchase off?”
- Dangling preposition is when the object appears earlier in the sentence or isn’t there at all, making the sentence appear incomplete or dangling. E.g., “Did you bring the mic along?”– the use of “along” here is unnecessary and leaves it dangling. However, this might still be fine on informal occasions and is merely a matter of preference. It is not wrong to use dangling prepositions.
Apart from the grammatical aspect, another thing to consider is: will the usage annoy the people reading it? If yes, will that affect you in any way? Then that’s another reason to avoid it. People who write content that reaches a diverse range of people may need to consider this, as a large proportion may dislike the usage.
When can you end a sentence with a preposition?
“Whichever sounds better and makes enough sense to you and your listener. That’s REAL English grammar.” -John Rymell, Stepney UK
- Just like the quote says, when it is unnatural or sounds awkward or out of place without use at the end. E.g.,
- “For what do you need it?”
- “To where are you leaving?”
- “This is something I had not liked.”
- In informal communication, it is commonplace to use prepositions at the end. In fact, if you make perfect sentences with everything in grammatical order, it will be out of place. You might be seen as too formal or stiff. E.g., “Where are you from?” instead of “From where are you?”
- When they go along with other words naturally, like in phrasal verbs or idioms, it’s alright to use them at the end. E.g., “carry on”, “get along”, “take up”, etc.
- For dramatic effect in dialogues, ending the sentence with these can sound quite nice. It can even add some humour to your speech. E.g., “Is it him you’re trying to go against!?” Related to this: check out ways to use rhetorical devices to make powerful speeches.
How can you avoid it?
So you have made up your mind that you want to avoid ending the sentence with a preposition. Maybe the context calls for it. Or maybe you just don’t like it. That’s alright because it’s simple to do this.
You simply need to make sure the object comes after the preposition. Re-frame the sentence to put the preposition before or add the object after it. Often, changing the sentence from passive to active will do the job for you. You could also replace the word entirely with something that conveys the intended meaning.
E.g., Instead of “Did you bring the mic along?, do: “Did you bring the mic along with you?”
You can end your sentence with a preposition, but it must sound natural. There are occasions where it is discouraged, such as in formal communication and when it leads to incomplete sentences. However, it is very common to use it in informal communication.
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Additionally, public speaking can help improve your skills on stage and also work wonders on how to write interesting content, because you learn hope to grab an audience’s attention. Feel free to check out public speaking coaching.