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Problems with Prepositions
Prepositions are words that often show direction: below, above, over, under, around, through, in, out, between, among, to, toward(s). Other common prepositions include of, for (also sometimes a conjunction), from, with, like (also sometimes a verb).
Rule 1: You shouldn’t use unnecessary prepositions.
Incorrect: Where did he go to?
Correct: Where did he go?
To is unnecessary because the meaning is clear without it.
Incorrect: I don’t know where my jacket is at.
Correct: I don’t know where my jacket is.
Incorrect: Please get the cat off of the table.
Correct: Please get the cat off the table.
Rule 2: Many of us learned that it is always incorrect to end a sentence with a preposition. This is a myth! The rule actually states that it is incorrect to end a sentence with an unnecessary preposition. Sentences may end with necessary prepositions.
Correct: That is something I cannot agree with.
Even though you could rewrite the sentence so that with does not end the sentence (That is something with which I cannot agree.), it is not incorrect to end this sentence with a preposition because it is a necessary one.
Correct: How many of you can I count on?
On is a necessary preposition. Alternately, you could write the sentence this way:
On how many of you can I count? But doesn’t this tortured phrasing to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition seem absurd?
Due to the E-Newsletter's large readership, we are unable to respond to individual English usage questions.
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Thanks to Aileen Z. for sharing this story.
A little boy was going to bed for the night. His mother was looking for a book from which to read him a bedtime story.
"Don't bring that book about cats," he called down to his mother.
As luck would have it, that's the book she brought upstairs. The little boy took one look at the book and said, (Are you ready for this?)
"What did you bring that book I didn't want to be read TO OUT OF UP FOR?"
This is the only sentence I've ever heard that ended with FIVE prepositions!
Learn all about who and whom, affect and effect, subjects and verbs, adjectives and adverbs, commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and much more by just sitting back and enjoying these easy-to-follow lessons. Tell your colleagues (and boss), children, teachers, and friends. Click here to watch.