Not a good thing to end on

Fellow grammar police will have noticed that my post “I Should’ve Known” ended with a preposition. My excuse in that case was that I wasn’t using it as a preposition, so it’s OK, but where do we stand on the rule that you should never end a sentence with a preposition?

In my view, this is one of those grammar rules which is neither absolute nor obsolete. A bit like the rule against starting a sentence with a conjunction, it is a useful rule of thumb and a good one to teach beginners. More often than not, a sentence which breaks one of these rules will read badly and should be fixed, but in both cases, there may be very good style reasons not to change it.

Take a sentence which involves the title of this piece: A preposition is not a good thing to end a sentence on. If we “correct” that, it becomes: A preposition is not a good thing on which to end a sentence. Neither version is unduly unwieldy and therefore I would be inclined to use the latter. However, if you’re writing a casual piece, this version can often seem unnatural and cumbersome and, these days, this rule is rarely followed.

If one is looking for publication, one must of course be guided by house style. Otherwise, I think it’s a matter for the writer’s discretion.  And the same goes for choosing a conjunction to start a sentence with. 😉


Filed under Grammar Rules Simplified, Writing

3 responses to “Not a good thing to end on

  1. Oh shoot, I start a lot of sentences with a conjunction. I don’t think I end on prepositions much, but I will have to look up preposition to be sure..

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