Rules from Grade School

In a meeting yesterday, a potential new client said, "It drives me nuts when I see a sentence that ends with a preposition."

It was another case of anxiety brought on by a misunderstood grammar rule, with the damage no doubt done by an excellent, well-meaning, beautiful elementary school teacher.

But here’s the antidote: It is okay to end a sentence with a preposition. If that’s shocking to you, please repeat this sentence three times: It is perfectly okay to end a sentence with a preposition.

Yes, ending a sentence with a preposition is okay. But ending a sentence without one is more formal.


–Type the name for which you want to search.  (formal)
–Type the name you want to search for. (less formal)

–With which preposition does this sentence end? (formal)
–Which preposition does this sentence end with? (less formal)

So the solution is this: If you need to sound formal in a particular document, avoid ending a sentence with a preposition.

Note: Some prepositions at the end of a sentence are wrong because they are redundant:

–What time is the meeting at? (wrong)
–What time is the meeting? (correct)

–Where are you going to? (wrong)
–Where are you going? (correct)

But no prepositions at the end of a sentence? I’m with Winston Churchill, who reportedly remarked, "That is a rule up with which I will not put!"


  1. Jeanne, I think the word “wanna” tells us the writer isn’t concerned about correct usage! Even so, it should be “Wanna come with us/me?” for clarity’s sake. Thanks for commenting.

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