If you learned English in a formal setting, you were probably told not to end a sentence with a preposition. But, just like starting a sentence with a conjunction (see what we did there?), this little “rule” is actually quite controversial. Read on to learn more about when you should and shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition.
What Is a Preposition?
First, what exactly are prepositions? They’re words used to link terms with other nearby words. Often, they tell us where things are, but there are many types of prepositions. Some common ones include above, about, below, for, from, in, inside, into, of, on, to, until, and with.
Grammar sticklers might tell you that because prepositions are supposed to precede the word they’re providing information about, they can’t be used at the end of a sentence. But you know English loves to break its own rules, so let’s look at some examples for when it’s perfectly fine to end a sentence with one of these words.
Do End a Sentence With a Preposition When…
You’re engaging in informal writing or conversation. Chatting with friends, sending casual texts or emails, or even producing content such as blogs, social media posts, or fiction with realistic dialogue among characters are all good times to end sentences with prepositions.
What’s the movie about?
About what is the movie?
If you used the second example to ask your date about the movie they were inviting you to see, they might give you a funny look. Take a look at some other examples of this and try to rearrange them yourself to determine what sounds better.
That’s the woman I was talking to.
Who are you going with?
Where are you from?
There are also many common verbs that combine with prepositions. It is totally acceptable for these phrasal verbs to end a sentence with a preposition, as in the following examples:
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The work will be done quickly if we all chip in.
The desert is beautiful when the weather cools down.
We like to watch the planes take off.
Don’t End a Sentence With a Preposition When…
It will leave necessary information out. Since prepositions are used to link terms, all the necessary context words must be present.
She threw the ball above.
The books were placed below.
Are you going from?
In each of these examples, the “what” is left out, and the sentence paints an unclear picture. Of course, if you provide enough context in the surrounding sentences, you could probably get away with this, but only in informal communications.
In formal writing, it’s best to avoid ending sentences with a preposition. This will ensure that your writing is professional, clear, and authoritative.
Do Get Your Work Proofread
We hope this post cleared up some of the controversies around prepositions. But if you want your grammar and spelling to be perfect and fit the tone of your work, be sure to get it proofread by our team of experts. Try our service for free with a 500-word sample!