The Myth Behind Prepositions

Prepositions have always been a struggle for me grammatically. From understanding where to place prepositions to simply even understanding what a preposition is, nailing down the exact formula to correctly using a preposition has been rough.

Grammar first step to clearing up any confusion in this area of grammer came when I read on Grammar Girl‘s blog that what she considers one of the top ten grammer myths is that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition.

What I learned is that this is only partially true. It is okay to use a preposition at the end of a sentence as long as it is necessary and effective. Otherwise, it is extraneous and only adds to the unnecessary amount of words in the sentence.  An example of an unnecessary preposition would be “Where are you at?” You could simply just ask “Where are you?” It is the same thing and adding “at” is unnecessary and should just be left out.

The myth is busted here, however. Sentences can end with prepositions for a number of reasons. English has a verb called a phrasal verb: “Cheer up,” “run over,” “log off,” and “leave off” are all examples of phrasal verbs.  Examples of phrasal verbs that end with a preposition include

  • I wish he would cheer up
  • You should leave it off.
So even though it’s not necessarily true that you can’t end a sentence with a prepositional phrase, you can’t just be throwing around prepositions expecting no consequences for your actions. There is a time to end a sentence and there is a time to not end a sentence with prepositions. It’s important to know the difference and use them effectively.
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