Ending a Sentence with Several Prepositions


I had an English teacher during high school who I can honestly say was good. Her technical knowledge of English grammar and usage was excellent and she had a knack for teaching.

However, she liked to insist that we should not end a sentence with a preposition, which I found absurd. The preposition in the end of a sentence is sometimes called Stranded Preposition. I never believed this nonsensical “rule” as ending a sentence with a preposition is natural in some cases. Indeed, there are sentences that sound ridiculous just because they didn’t end with prepositions.

Anyway, Morris Bishop (1893 – 1973) found a way to annoy people who do not like seeing sentences that end with prepositions. Instead of just one preposition, he made some sentences which end with several prepositions in this short verse he titled “The Naughty Preposition”:

I lately lost a preposition;
It hid, I thought, beneath my chair,
And angrily I cried, “Perdition!
Up from out of in under there.”
Correctness is my vade mecum,
And straggling phrases I abhor,
And yet I wondered, “What should he come
Up from out of in under there for?”

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My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. You can find me on Twitter` and Facebook. My email is edmarklaw@learnfunfacts.com

28 thoughts on “Ending a Sentence with Several Prepositions

    1. That doesn’t prove anything since its etymology is Latin. In Latin, you won’t be able to end a sentence with a preposition without it looking and sounding ridiculous. However, this is not the case with English. While in certain cases, ending a sentence with a preposition looks awkward, it’s natural in many cases. Personally, I don’t avoid ending a sentence with a presosition but most of my sentences don’t end with it. If I encounter a case wherein ending a sentence with a preposition sounds more natural, then I won’t hesitate to end it with a preposition.

      Also, after writing for some time made me realize how absurd some of the rigid rules taught in schools are, as English is more flexible than what school textbooks portray.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That was kind of a joke. Fun with words. Weeee!
        I’m not familiar with Latin, but I do know that English is comprised of words taken from various languages while often retaining their original meanings. Language is also a fluid, evolving entity. The meaning, spelling, pronunciation, usage of words is constantly changing. Those changes scarcely conform to the rules. The rules don’t often evolve as easily as the language. So, you’re right, there is a conflict between modern usage and archaic rules, which can get awkward. There are also plenty of examples of breaking the rules that sound awkward.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. As the rule applies to Latin, and I don’t speak or write in that language, I will end my sentences with the words that power it.
    True – the rule came from the Latin and some stupendously long-winded git got it appended to ‘rules’!
    It’s a rule that can be safely ignored. Forever. Just as the ‘a’ and ‘an’ problem with a word starting with ‘h’ can also be ignored – because it’s in how it sounds, not how it reads!
    An ‘otel is fine, an hotel is NOT, never was, never will be!
    Sorry – pet peeves at work here! I’ll just slink away … forget you saw me …

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I’ve always loved this Churchill quote. It mocks the silliness of a grammar rule that forces ridiculous sentence construction. I’ve just given up and lived with the fact I’m going to end some sentences with prepositions. That said, I too often feel the spirit of long-forgotten English teachers standing over my shoulder huffing about it.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I try to avoid ending sentences with a preposition but am not anally retentive about it. I usually ask myself, if I am ending with a preposition, is there perhaps a better way to word the sentence. For example,
    The horror he had been subjected to ….
    I would probably rewrite as
    The horror to which he had been subjected ….
    Just my two cents.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. A letter from E.B. White to J.G. Case, March 30, 1962:
    Dear Jack:
    The next grammar book I bring out I want to tell how to end a sentence with five prepositions. A father of a little boy goes upstairs after supper to read to his son, but he brings the wrong book. The boy says, ‘What did you bring that book that I don’t want to be read to out of up for?’
    And how are YOU?
    Hat tip: Futility Closet

    Liked by 2 people

  5. To avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, I just put the period or question mark in one word earlier: For example, “Billy and Sally were fun to play. With.” It may not make any sense, but no feelings are hurt and that is what’s important!

    Liked by 9 people

  6. Why do some teachers insist on not ending a sentence with a preposition? I’ve grown up prejudiced against it, but I can’t deny that some phrases just need that ending. Is it similar to the I/me dilemma, where English speakers use “I” over “me” because of over-correction?

    Liked by 2 people

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