A Preposition is a Perfectly Good Word to End a Sentence With

A Preposition is a Perfectly Good Word to End a Sentence With

A Preposition is a Perfectly Good Word to End a Sentence With

The rule against ending a sentence with a preposition is one of the first academic restrictions I chafed at. Some sentences just sound better with a preposition in the terminal position. Compare the verbal flourish of "And now... the announcement you've all been waiting for!" with the rule-abiding dullard "And now... the announcement for which you've all been waiting!"

Prepositions are words like as, at, before, by, down, for, from, in, of, off, through, to, up and with that do the important work of linking an object to another word in the sentence to show the relationship between them. For years, grammarians have been at odds with the rest of us about prepositional placement.

They say it's not proper to place a preposition at the end of a sentence, but who are they to tell us what we may and may not end our sentences with? For example, Garbanzos are the beans that hummus is made from. The preposition from establishes the relationship between garbanzo beans and hummus, and it sounds more natural placed at the end of the sentence than in its technically correct position, Garbanzos are the beans from which hummus is made.

I'm positively giddy about the prepositional freedom granted in the fifteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style: "A sentence that ends in a preposition may sound more natural than a sentence carefully constructed to avoid a final preposition." and "The 'rule' prohibiting terminal prepositions was an ill-founded superstition."

  • I saw the bucket of peanut butter the elephant sat in.
  • This is the wall the famished octopus slid down.
  • A slick of honey and bubble gum is the best thing to catch a toddler with.
  • Is that the hill your spaceship landed on?

This is the stuff creative dreams are made of. Have fun.

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Copyright © 2006 by Sally Bacchetta. All rights reserved.


Sally Bacchetta

Sally writes training content and designs instruction for online and face-to-face deployment for clients in a variety of industries, including pharmaceutical, healthcare, security, financial services, and business services. In addition, she writes articles for publication, website content, corporate communications, marketing collateral, promotional pieces, press releases, and white papers.